Sebastian Reynolds is a composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist based in Oxford. In 2016/17 he worked with German cellist/composer Anne Müller and violinist/producer Alex Stolze to release Solo Collective Part One, a record which featured two tracks from each artist, one taken from a live performance by the trio at Roter Salon (Berlin), and one a studio production by each artist. The format proved fruitful and the trio toured together in Germany and the UK. As a result of the touring and studio sessions during their time on the road together, the trio have put together a record of performances of compositions by Sebastian Reynolds.
Now they release the follow up, Solo Collective Part Two moves between delicate, introspective piano solos and trios. It showcases Sebastian Reynolds deft ability to mould soundscapes from field recordings mixed in with the sublime musical performances of Anne and Alex.
1) One Year On
I made up on the spot during a studio session with Anne and Alex when we were touring Solo Collective Part One. I started playing the piano line and we worked out a string arrangement whilst playing through some takes. My mother passed away a few years ago, and this and some of the other tunes are eulogies in some ways.
2) For Hazel
Is dedicated to Hazel Ffennell, the daughter of the Ffennell family of Wytham Woods, Oxfordshire. Hazel died tragically in 1939, aged just 33, and left the Ffennells without an heir, so the woods were bequeathed to Oxford University, under the strict covenant that the woods should be preserved as woodland. The track For Hazel was greatly inspired by time spent in the woods, both as a child and in more recent times. It is a place of sanctuary and refuge for me, and I wanted to communicate something of the warmth and nostalgia that I feel for the ancient woodland, and its place in Oxfordshire history. Musically the main inspiration for this track is Susumu Yokota, I love his deft use of organic samples and electronics, and the way that he blurs the lines between these different sources.
3) By The Tower, At Nightfall
It was originally composed following a debauched weekend in Paris as a younger man, and the title is a reference to the Eiffel Tower. I’ve always loved Jewish Klezmer music, and I channelled this natural attraction into the composition. Anne and Alex’s string arrangement perfectly imbues the track with an impressionistic, dreamy atmosphere, fittingly evocative of Ravel and Debussy, the masters of the Parisian musical impressionists.
4) For Matthew
A short piano instrumental that I wrote for my brother on his birthday in 2018.
5) Ripeness Is All
Is a track I originally conceived back in 2002, and is based around a reading from Catch 22, it is read by my friend Matthew Edler, and I produced what is now the backing parts with Oxford music scene luminaries and brothers Mark and Ben Baldwin. The version for Solo Collective Part Two was recorded live with Anne and Alex, and guest guitarist James Maund at a Solo Collective gig at the Jericho Tavern in Oxford during a tour. I always try and record gigs and schedule studio sessions on off days as you often capture something special when you’re playing and living together on the road. I had a feeling that this track would only work as a live recording, as it is performed in a very spontaneous way and it’s much easier to create the necessary tension and drama in front of a live audience. Musical inspirations include Stockhausen and Xenakis’s more visceral pieces, and there’s probably a hint of my old band, Braindead Collective, which was a free improv ensemble. When I first read Catch 22 this passage floored me, and I wanted to convey the power and brutality of the message. I always love juxtaposing dark and light, so this sits well for me on an album alongside pieces such as One Year On and Holy Island. No light without shade.
This is another Susumu Yokota inspired piece, based around processed piano textures and atmospheres. I composed it when I lived in Clapton Pond in London, round the corner from where I recorded the source material for this at a friends house on Mildenhall Road. I wanted to have a short interlude atmosphere to cleanse the palette after the torrid storm of Ripeness Is All.
7) There was an earlier, studio version of Holy Island on Solo Collective Part One, but I wanted to release a version that captured the essence of the track when performed live with Anne and Alex. Holy Island was inspired by the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Musical touchstones include Sigur Rós circa the () album, I wanted to convey an aspiration for the transcendence of suffering.
Solo Collective Part Two – Sebastian Reynolds with Anne Müller and Alex Stolze – available now via Nonostar Records