Luke Howard, one of Australia’s foremost practitioners of contemporary classical music, releases his new album The Sand That Ate The Sea today. The release follows the critical and commercial success of the composer and instrumentalist’s previous album Open Heart Story and its subsequent companion EP More Heart Stories. Watch the video for ‘Salt Flats’ which was filmed in the remote outback town of Andamooka in South Australia. The striking visuals resonate powerfully with Luke’s string and piano arrangements alongside celestial vocals from Shards and fellow Australian Lior.
The Sand That Ate The Sea is inspired by the notion of creating music for visuals directed by fellow Australian and up and coming film director Matthew Thorne. The music and visuals together present a non-idealised snapshot of the heat of the Australian outback and its communities pending an incoming storm. The collaborative experience was inspirational and Howard found himself visiting musical areas he was yet to exploit in his own work with this project. With its contemporary stance on the mythic and spiritual connotations that come with the desert the composer found himself writing for choir for the first time, recruiting vocal group Shards and Australian-Israeli singer Lior, to create a fresh reflection of the desert’s minimal yet encompassing environment.
“For certain moments I was inspired to aim for a sacred music feel,” explained Howard. “I love that kind of music. In classical music there’s holy minimalism, the music of Henryk Górecki and Arvo Pärt, which is not necessarily sacred but it is an aesthetic of strongly expressed simple ideas. I’d never written for choir before but as Matt was keen to have one we went down that route, which was a new direction for me. The human voice brings a new set of constraints compared to writing for strings – they have to breathe after all! We wanted the sacred sound and pure tone of a cathedral choir.”
A new album is not the only thing Howard has taken from his The Sand That Ate The Sea collaboration, as the composer also believes the new places that the album has touched and the multi-media nature of the work, will have a lasting resonance on his own music. The desert has worked its magic.
Luke Howard is one of Australia’s foremost practitioners of contemporary classical music, whose music has been described as “absolutely heavenly” (Mary Anne Hobbs, BBC Radio 6 Music), but no words can fully capture the potency of his compositions. He has scored films, and performed with artists as diverse as Lior and Jeff Mills, capturing audiences with his contemporary classical compositions.
Howard is the festival ambassador for the ZoneOut International Music Festival (www.ZoneOut.com) which takes place at Sydney’s iconic contemporary multi-arts centre Carriageworks on Saturday 28 September 2019 and features several neo-classical artists.
Luke Howard’s album The Sand That Ate The Sea is out now and can be bought here.