Perhaps the title, “Into The Light” is of personal significance for composer and pianist, Linden Hale, whose recorded work has, for too long, been dwelling in that dark non-place of obscurity. A resolute perfectionist by nature, Hale’s beautiful work has at times passed his hyper-critical scrutiny, and prised it’s way into daylight, via releases on Spekk as an erstwhile collaborator with Level, and a limited edition solo release of 100, “Dawning” here on WHITE_LINE, that disappeared almost as quickly as it was pressed, ensuring a stable and burgeoning fan base.
This self-released debut, a reworking of those pieces, alongside other pieces recently composed, and some that have been sitting in the composer’s cabinet of curiosities for years, awaiting new relevance, is the ideal showcase and a crystallisation of Hale’s work so far.
In a career trajectory that spans formative training at the influential Sorbonne, and London’s Goldsmiths College , (both of which have spawned a host of prestigious and accomplished composers), to prolonged live activity with his jazz-influenced trio and continuing solo performances ,as well as numerous collaborations and associations, Hale has certainly served an extended apprenticeship.
Into The Light sees Hale in sparkling form, finally jettisoning some of his more obvious influences, (most notably the work of jazz luminary, Keith Jarrett), and finally striking out and composing on his own terms.
Hale cites in his press blurb, the multiple inflections of jazz improvisation, gospel, and even gamelan that emerge in his compositions. He is a reluctant minimalist, as much of the work here is lyrical, freeform, oftentimes bursting with a passive energy. Works such as the opener, Per Ardua, and Supersymmetry appear to be perched on the edge of more explosive tracts, but remain subtle and understated, reaching a point of equilbrium that preserves and enhances tension.
With all of it’s multiple moods, scattered fragments, and eclectic sound-bites, perhaps the consistent thematic thread that connects all of the pieces here is melancholy. Works like the epic, elegiac Hymnal, and the beautifully restrained tonalities of Ghialoch, showcase a technical, emotive ability that eclipses the work of modern composers such as Greg Haines , Sylvain Chaveau, or Max Richter. Hale has over the years slowly blossomed into the more mature stages of his career. He is a master of dynamics, and has a rare technical ability that flows from every pore. On Into The Light, he bravely presents himself to the world, devoid of accompaniment, and the trappings of modern and digital composition. Into The Light is quite simply one of the finest piano debuts I have heard for a long time, and one only hopes that Hale continues to transcend traditional categorisations, and emerge as perhaps one of our most original , innovative modern pianist/composers. BGN
“Into The Light” Linden Hale,
available via Amazon.co.uk / CDBABY/Rhapsody.com