Boomkat Product Review:
Contemporary pianist and composer James Heather announces his second album ‘Invisible Forces’ via Ahead of Our Time.
"Influenced by the sensibility of electronic, ambient, orchestral and post-rock music but channelled through solo piano and his classical and jazz grounding, the album follows the release of the critically acclaimed ‘Modulations: EP2’, released in 2021.
Heather’s new album is about becoming aware of invisible forces around us to help deepen understanding of self and our connection to the world, from tuning into the natural world and getting lost in its patterns and energies to gaining more knowledge around ancestral lines such as the concept of epigenetics. It’s about looking that bit deeper into things, into areas that are not instantly visible but are all around us to achieve this. “Composing these songs gave me an anchor to feel more present in life after some troubling times and sent me on a journey to rediscover a kind of wonderment with the world. I hope the Invisible Forces universe will bring warmth to other people too.”
Recorded, mixed and produced by Heather in his new home studio on a refurbished Bosendorfer 200 grand piano utilising various microphone techniques, ‘Invisible Forces’ is a love story to the instrument that was his first love. A step forward compositionally from his 2017 debut album ‘Stories From Far Away On Piano’, the songs are grander, deeper and broader in emotional range and are developed through a series of improvisation techniques rarely seen in the often notated world of classical music. He describes his music as “pulse music” with each track performed in a single take and with their roots in this live improvisation, often honed on the road where Heather moves between tender to more propulsive, trance-inducing dynamics. He memorised each movement, then subtly adapted, adding more complexities and compositional dexterity over time before committing to the final take. His approach to the new compositions, finds him playing freely, with no metronome or official notation to recall or dictate the piece but instead using just his muscle memory, feel and instinct to decide where each track will go.
A deeply personal and autobiographical album, the first four tracks on ‘Invisible Forces’ come from inside, about life dreams that end up becoming devastatingly flawed (or not) as in ‘Meant to Be’, to complications around the sharing of grief and moving on in ‘No Time Limit to Grief’. Elsewhere, the loss of the “sixth” sense of balance in Heather’s father due to a brain tumour is addressed in ‘Balance,’ while Heather acknowledges trusting in his inner being to overcome life’s difficulties and look out once again with positivity in ‘In Your Spirit’."