Album review: Adrian Corker – Raise

by Thomas Blake

In recent years Adrian Corker has made a name for himself as a composer of film scores, among them the weird and wonderful Way Of The Morris and Florian Hoffmeister’s prizewinning Three Degrees Colder. He has also released a number of records with Paul Conboy: their collaboration stretches back to the 1990s and includes 2005’s Radiant Idiot, an intriguing mix of synthy ambience and melodic post rock.

Raise is Corker’s first solo album proper, and you have to ask what took him so long. Given free reign he employs a wealth of talent to back him up, including members of the Portico and Elysian quartets. He also makes full use of a wide range of recording techniques and locations: some of the album was recorded Reykjavik in Valgeir Sigurðsson’s Greenhouse Studios (beloved of Bonnie Prince Billy, Damon Albarn and Wildbirds and Peacedrums, amongst many others).

First Light, a minimal piece for solo piano (underscored with studio clicks and swishes) succeeds by withholding melodic progression. The result is airy and tremulous, and is the perfect foil for the following track, Circle Song, which harks back to the golden age of Scandinavian jazz with its improvised sax and wonderfully loose double bass (courtesy of Portico’s Milo Fitzpatrick) wandering over synths, strings and keys.

Charged has a naturally insistent percussiveness that somehow provides the perfect foil to an interplay of piano and brass that is almost absurdly simple. It is a prime example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

If there is a theme to the record, or a feeling common to each track, it is the way in which different settings complement different instruments and techniques. The slightly more kitchen-sink approach to improvisation works well with the thrumming strings of Raise Part 2, for example, while Lunar Detachment’s brevity and creakiness create a vintage soundscape that suits its minimal chords and rubbery bass. The even shorter Unfold sees Raise float rudderlessly (but not without purpose) to its conclusion, the beautiful, piano-led Interdependence. It is the most melodic thing on the whole album, and it provides a fittingly human coda to a work that is simple, experimental and accessible.

 

Raise is available now on Village Green Records

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