An Ever Changing View

An Ever Changing View

Packing his mobile recording equipment, trumpet and box of handmade, collected percussion, composer and jazz instrumentalist Matthew Halsall set out to create his seventh solo album through a connection with the British landscape. “I wanted to be in places with beautiful views and lots of natural light,” he tells Apple Music. “Those locations give me a sense of freedom, a space to sit and create from the moving landscape around me, almost like a painter.” Since the release of his debut album, Sending My Love, in 2008, Halsall has become a stalwart of the British jazz scene through creating luscious, melodic improvisations that conjure imaginative vistas. On An Ever Changing View, Halsall channelled his inspiration from spaces in North Wales, North-east England and beyond. Drawing from his solitude and natural surroundings, the record traverses everything from the uplifting flute melodies of “Water Street” to the gentle electronica of “Calder Shapes” and the shimmering harmonic brilliance of “Triangles in the Sky”. “Sometimes, I would see a rainbow or there would be clouds travelling down the street towards me,” he says. “There is a beauty in the sense that things are always changing.” Read on for Halsall’s in-depth thoughts on the album, track by track. “Tracing Nature” “This track was composed in a wooden lodge house on the west coast of Anglesey. It was an amazingly remote place to be and the birdsong was so intense. I remember sitting at the piano one day and trying to have an improvised conversation with nature itself. I was trying to be part of nature in the most humble way possible and so the piano playing has a fluid and open feel to it. It’s a great palate cleanser before the record starts.” “Water Street” “Another location I went to compose in was a place called Water Street in Penmaenmawr, Wales. It was a terraced house on the coast and I would sit there and look out of the window for days on end, watching the tide and seeing a rainbow almost every day because of the rain. I created a score of my ideas inspired by that setting, as well as a load of percussion loops that I later improvised around with the band. It was a great, impulsive process to create from.” “An Ever Changing View” “The title of the album comes from the experience of being in these natural locations and witnessing changing scenes, almost like a landscape painter taking their inspiration from the surrounding environment. This track was also written at the same place on Water Street and delves more into my love of electronica. I don’t have many tracks in my back catalogue with a 4/4 feel, so I wanted to bring more of a solid tempo to this composition, crafting it to be dance-floor-friendly.” “Calder Shapes” “Newborough in Anglesey is probably my favourite place in the world. It’s full of wild beaches and forests with an incredible mountain range in the distance too. I composed a lot of music for this album and the next one from a log cabin there, since it was pretty much off-grid so I could completely focus. I’d already done a few sessions with a drummer recording breaks, and I chopped them up into loops which I then combined with unusual percussion instruments like the five-octave celesta for this track. It has this really warm, sparkly sound that paired beautifully with the Rhodes and double bass.” “Mountains, Trees and Seas” “I was thinking about the views in Newborough when I composed this track, which is one of the first I wrote for the album. I was playing around with lots of percussion and wanted to create a Nightmares on Wax-type track with a trip-hop feel, while keeping it organic and acoustic. I picked a bouncy tempo with a head-nod feel and began splicing in samples I’d recorded. There’s a sonic nostalgia and sense of connection between this song and my 2012 record Fletcher Moss Park.” “Field of Vision” “‘Field of Vision’ was recorded in Anglesey on the same day as ‘Tracing Nature’. It has a similar concept, where I put my headphones on and just tried to be completely organic in my reactions to the surrounding nature. I wanted a few moments in the album that would break up the solid tempo and give listeners a chance to reflect before the record moves on.” “Jewels” “‘Jewels’ is influenced by the Japanese composer Susumu Yokota, who had a really interesting way of using electronic sounds and samples in his work. The track started life with an upbeat four-on-the-floor tempo where I was jamming out on this 17-note kalimba I bought while adding percussion and playing around with trumpet ideas. I came up with the solo and main melody in one go while improvising and then had to memorise it for the studio. It’s also influenced by the chilled-out feel of old trip-hop bands like Fila Brazillia and St Germain.” “Sunlight Reflection” “I got really into the idea of commissioning people to make instruments for me while writing this record. I discovered this guy online in Bristol who makes these beautiful hand-hammered gongs and triangles. They create a spiritual feel with their amazing sustains, so I reached out and got him to make me 18 triangles. This is one of two tracks on the album where I perform on them and the band just followed me in a loose, improvised way.” “Natural Movement” “This track features my log drum, which has only six notes but is one of the most fun instruments to play from my percussion collection. I get into a deep trance when I’m jamming with it and ended up recording loops to improvise around before bringing them to the studio for the band. These percussive instruments have such an earthiness to them that always feels great.” “Triangles in the Sky” “I’ve been working with the flute player Chip Wickham since my first solo record in 2008. In addition to the amazing young musicians I work with, I wanted to bring in an experienced character who would change the mood in the studio and get more silly and playful. Chip is an absolute pro and we built this gorgeous track from the sound of the hand-hammered triangles before developing into this organic and positive feel, which felt like the perfect way to end the album.”

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