Berlin based, and English born Greg Haines is one of a crop of young contemporary composers, whose work has now perhaps reached a natural crescendo. I first encountered his work “Slumbertides” some years back when I was guesting on a radio slot for Garden of Earthly Delights. I gave it airtime of course, but at that time, and for no particular reason, the work did not resonate with me, yet remained in my collection.
Since then, both he and I have matured, and I recently stumbled upon his material when cross-referencing for some releases I am about to review. It is always a joyous moment when one discovers that such people have not only survived the rigours of a career in music, but are perhaps producing some of the finest work of their lives, and are indeed thriving..step forward Greg Haines. Having immersed myself in the diaphanous strains of “Until The Point of Hushed Support”, certain in the knowledge that I had hit a rich vein of creativity, I set about hungrily searching for more recent work.
Until The Point of Hushed Support, released in 2010 on the wonderful German imprint, Sonic Pieces, has the emotive quality, and rich textural fields invoked by Haines’ contemporaries and spiritual counterparts, Olafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, and more recently a Winged Victory For The Sullen.
This relatively new crop of composers also appear to have taken on a collaborative spirit and cross-fertilisation of ideologies, informed by luminous predecessors such as Arvo Part, John Tavener, Peteris Vasks to name but a few.
Haines’ work is infused with the kind of aching, melancholic beauty that leaves the heart heavy, but cleansed, particularly in the newer works on “Digressions”, a layered and complex work that literally hits all the right notes. Digressions effortlessly bridges the disciplines of orchestral composition and the avant garde, deploying microtonal layers, and filigree shifting tonal drones interwoven with rich, structural orchestrations. A fellow reviewer commented that this was possibly the finest album ever made, a grand statement, but one that I would not readily argue with. Haines, perhaps through his kinship with the Icelandic/Nordic traditions, and living as he does, out of his home country, has crafted his compositional abilities to a fine sheen, and his music is imbued with an elegiac, almost transcendent allure that comes so naturally to his Icelandic counterparts. It comes as no surprise that his work is now being eagerly set upon by the world of dance and ballet, and a recent commission from the Royal Opera House, no less, will surely assert his position as one of our country’s (yes, we’re claiming him!) finest composers in recent years.
Greg Haines will be on tour in the Spring, supporting Olafur Arnalds, and will be promoting his new work, “Where We Were”, on the Denovali label in May, a new album, and retrospective collection of his first three albums. Denovali are promoting the tour, and I for one, will most assuredly be eagerly awaiting his UK appearance , having seen Arnalds perform last year at the incredible Erased Tapes anniversary party. This will surely be a tour to remember.