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Monday, March 21, 2016

Rae Howell, Invisible Wilderness, Volume 1 & 2

Rae Howell writes music with a kind of homespun lyricism and often enough a pronounced harmonic movement, in a minimalist postmodern vein. At least that is the case on her two-volume recording of works for solo piano and electric piano, Invisible Wilderness, Volume 1 & 2 (Sunwrae SWR 05).

She hails from Australia, currently resides in England, and something of her experience of the rural landscape in her homeland and beyond suffuses the music, to my ears. Volume 1 is her music from grand piano, slightly more formal than Volume 2, which uses old uprights to get characteristic sounds one can get from ramshackle instruments, plus some pieces for electric piano. There are improvisations as well as compositions, all with a kind of open approach that may sometimes bring in jazz or song elements, always as part of a woven web of sounds that is original and personal.

These were written over a 15-year period and constitute a kind of aural biography of her life and its intimate interaction with the piano. Some of it sounds slightly Glassian, with perhaps a dash of Satie's ambiance. Generally speaking a goodly inventiveness of thematics carries the day, along with a vibrant rhythmic vitality.

The music bears up under repeated hearings and brings you a kind of lyrical warmth. Bravo!

There is a 84-page volume of sheet music that is available, containing 12 of these works. Check her website for more information on all this and to order.

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