By: Daniela Patrizi
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Released on April 22, 2016 via Lukktone
What is really great about Two Places is that there are so many of those “wow…” moments where you are fully immersed in a soft and deep music, that really inebriates you and taps you something inside. Two Places is the second solo album of the Melbourne-born composer Luke Howard whose name is well known for his compositions for film and theatre. He is also the leader of the group Magnolia and of the Luke Howard Trio. I didn’t know about his music instead before hearing about it in the amazing world of Echoes and Dust, and the first thing I thought listening to Two Places is that Luke Howard composes melancholic, emotionally fueled, and undeniably beautiful music.
Every time I discover a new artist/band I start looking at their previous works and I go back to the first release, and so I did with Luke Howard and his debut Sun, Cloud that’s sublime. Two Places can be considered a kind of continuum of Sun, Cloud like if the two albums were parts of the same experiment where the musician, influenced by both electronic and neo and modern-classical music, incorporates various stylistic elements into his work.
With thirteen beautiful songs, spanning a 70 minute album, Luke Howard shows a wide-ranging tapestry of piano, strings, drum, and electronic flutters walking in and out, but always balancing minimalism with an almost magical attention to details. The fluidity and smoothness of each track are effortless, with every track flowing in the following one and very often it feels like the whole composition is floating in space. ‘The Main Sequence’ that opens the album is a triumphant start: it carries loops that go on and on and on, wrapping you and keeping you in that cycle before leaving you in the peaceful piano notes of ‘Longplay’. The first chord of ‘Longplay’ begins and you suddenly feel somewhat reflective: melancholy is the protagonist here and it’s where I found my best friend. The space between every notes – and too often we forget how incredibly powerful space in music can be – leaves you room enough to paint images and represent the music on a canvas that has all the nuances of gray, like the sky of a rainy day, with light blue tones coming up here and there.
Every track of Two Places seems to have its own story and together they are like frames of the same film. For example, on the title track, ‘Two places’, that’s my favorite piece on the album, recalls the opening track but soon changes creating new sonic landscapes. Here the Aussie musician displays his ability to mix beautiful solo piano progression with electronic flutters in a glorious way; peaceful and cinematic, introspective and joyful at the same, ‘Two places’ brings you in a smooth jazz bar of the 20’s.
The following tracks of the album – and in particular ‘Atlases’, ‘Common Ground’ and the impressive ‘The Crossing Of The Years’ that deserve to be mentioned – are a collection of beautiful, restrained, haunting music. At the heart of them there’s the Luke Howard’s delicate and melancholic piano that can be sad, true, but it’s so gorgeous.
Two Places is a mesmerizing collection of minimalist piano pieces and Luke Howard is definitely one of those artists we have to keep an eye on.