All of Us
Luke Howard’s sixth solo album, All of Us, is a song cycle inspired by Albert Camus’ 1947 epidemic-themed novel The Plague—yet it’s also so much more. It is an ambitious attempt to capture the expansive and oftentimes confused range of emotions the Australian composer felt as he read the existential classic in the spring of 2020, just as the world around him was being plunged into the Covid pandemic. Dissolving the boundaries between fiction and reality, Howard employs piano, electronic textures and orchestra to construct atmospheric pieces that pass through conflicting moments of uncertainty (“A World of Abstractions”), isolation (“The Vast Indifference of the Sky”) and, ultimately, a tentative pivot toward hope (“A Collective Destiny”). Howard is no stranger to examining the drama between light and dark; 2014’s Two & One is a prime example of this. What’s more, he’s previously addressed global concerns on 2019’s The Sand That Ate the Sea, a meditation on our local ecology. But the convergence of these themes on All of Us instils in Howard’s vision of contemporary classical music a newfound tension undeniable in its impact.