Battery Life by Neil CowleyRelease date: March 24, 2023
Label: MOTE Records
It might be a question why so far Neil Cowley has released only two solo albums. Still, maybe it doesn’t make any difference, since both his 2021 debut, Hall of Mirrors, and Battery Life, his latest prove that this pianist, composer, and producer has not ample skills but almost an overabundance of inventiveness among those artists that are currently working at the crossroads of modern classical, ambient/ electronic musical genres.
Sure. here Cowley does put the solo piano at the centre but then applies both the elements of neo-classical, ambient, and even electronic beat genres around his improvisational ventures on the piano to a brilliant effect.
“There’s this underpinning of acoustic piano at the centre because that always represents the human in everything I do,” he says, “but for each track, I try to create an orchestral cloud around me, an electronic pallet of emotions that the piano longs to express.”
The reason Cowley’s music works so well here is the fact that he doesn’t try to force anything – no piano technique show-off and all the enveloping elements are subtle, almost subdued serving the purpose of accentuating what he is trying to present musically.
What he does try to present – as he points out – is memories. “Memories are bittersweet. Like a battery, they come with a positive and a negative. ‘BatteryLife’ is an album of abstract memories and stolen excerpts. It is my perception of the past before the detail is filled in.”
And, actually, on Battery Life, Cowley can transform his spoken ideas into music.