Sounds Like: Strings, drones and flickering piano creating clouds of nostalgia and melancholy For Fans of: Ólafur Arnalds, Max Richter, Nils Frahm Why You Should Pay Attention: Price is an Emmy-winning composer who co-penned the score to the smash British drama Sherlock. His gorgeous debut full-length, Entanglement, was released this week by Erased Tapes, the heart-string-tugging London label that floats gently between 20th Century composition and ambient music. Within the album’s 39-minute drift, there’s a slow “Tape Overture,” plinky piano raindrops, field recordings and the voice of soprano Ashley Knight briefly calling through the fog. “When I’m making a record, the story is all my own, and I can make a structure that makes musical sense,” says Price about recording for Erased Tapes as opposed to a TV show. “And there aren’t as many car chases.” He Says: “I really got into recording the sounds of travel, as well as the places I went to,” says Price, who uses mobile phone recordings on “Budapest,” “so you can hear the crazy musical sound of the Budapest metro announcements and then an awesome street fiddle player at the end of the track. Nobody gets freaked out if you’re just looking at your phone with headphones on, like they do if you shove a big microphone in their face.” Hear for Yourself: “The Attachment,” off Entanglement, already has more than 35,000 SoundCloud plays — pretty phenomenal for a song made up of patient piano, circling strings and warm sounds from a 1940s magnetic tape reel. Christopher R. Weingarten
More than 20 years into a career as a composer – including work across the worlds of dance, television and the bright lights of Hollywood – Michael Price has decided the time is right for releasing his first ever true solo record. Built on an urge to explore the product of a group of musicians responding to each other’s actions without too many constraints, and written whilst tinkering with the vast swathes of equipment at Abbey Road, ‘Entanglement’ is clearly a rather special endeavour for an artist who’s already had plenty of highs. Crafted over two years and ultimately recorded in Berlin, the album is a fascinating set featuring the melding of conventional piano and strings and rather more curious tape effects, modular synths and electronic burbles. There is a genuine darkness pervading this record that is simultaneously chilling and indescribably moreish. As much as this collection of instruments can so often deliver the hair-raising tricks we expect, these pieces feel more resonant, more entrenched. The surface level thrills are there, but the impact lingers. ‘Easter’ will naturally connect with fans of the Erased Tapes stable of artists – Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick have been in similar territory before – so endearing is its spacious, glacial melody. Indeed, it might have better occupied the title of the subsequent track, ‘Little Warm Thing’, which is anything but, swelling in a manner that feels like a punch in the guts. The emotional clout of this music is quite staggering and, even after a dozen listens, it consistently has the capacity to genuinely manipulate your mood. The record was inspired by Price’s love of all things scientific, mulling on how such clarity and order can provide figurative insight into human behaviour. Such unlikely pairings were also considered in the assembly of the music. Parts of ‘The Attachment’ were recorded onto a 1940s magnetic disc recorder, adding an eerily grainy quality to the sound that is slowly subsumed by vivid strings which deliver an astoundingly intense counterpoint. Two of the tracks feature vocals – in both cases from soprano Ashley Knight – using English translations of Japanese poetry exploring loss. ‘Maitri’ swirls, with vocal parts overlapping, while ‘The Uncertainty Principle’ lives up to its title, gradually disorienting the listener as it progresses. Despite the minimal use of voice, the instrumental title track has an emphatic, grandiose drive to it that feels almost lyrical, gathering the album to a statuesque conclusion. 8/10
London-based Erased Tapes continues to delight. It’s no wonder that some of my (and I think yours as well) all time favorite modern classical composers, such as Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, Peter Broderick, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Lubomyr Melnyk, and many others, established Erased Tapes as their home. It seems that Robert Raths and Sofia Illyas have a knack for picking out the talent, let alone the very next best thing in contemporary music. So when a new album by Michael Price hits my ever-growing promo queue, I’m not a bit abashed to bump it to the top. I first became aware of Michael Price, a British film composer, conductor, arranger and an award-winning music editor, with his four-track EP, titled A Stillness, released on Erased Tapes in 2012. Entanglement is his début full length release, on which Price explores ‘new musical territories’ with the help of Peter Gregson on the cello (a part specifically written for him), Ashley Knight with her soprano vocals, string orchestra, modular synth and tape effects. We say ‘new musical territories’ because Price is mostly known for his work on BBC drama Sherlock as well as more than two dozen full-orchestral scores for UK film and television. Given complete freedom on Entanglement (as opposed to the necessary constrains of a plot), Price expresses his more ‘honest and vulnerable’ side, refined over a period of two years. “I wanted to make an album that sounded like a dark, Berlin record store discovery from the 30s. Something that had timeless emotive power, and pre-digital rawness. Something that I hope would make a deeper connection in superficially networked times. I think there is a duty for artists to be honest, and vulnerable. Because then there is a possibility of real connection.” My favorite piece on the album, “The Attachment”, begins with a distant lo-fi recording of a string phrase warbled over dusty piano keys, captured on a 1940s magnetic recorder, until it slowly comes into focus with its immediately soul crushing melancholy melody. The nostalgic subject, framed by its title, implies moments of self-reflection on things, places and people that we fail to let go. On the last, and longest title track, “The Entanglement”, Price seems to mildly agonize over a particularly probed motif until it resolves into a major chord, echoed by the violins, which finally propose their plea into acceptance by the piano chords. The album still carries many cinematic themes, and if you close your eyes, images of longing and remorse will undoubtedly flash behind your eyelids. This, of course, is exactly what draws me to Entanglement, and upon its 40 minute statement, I promptly hit replay. Once again, I am extremely excited (and proud) of this fantastic acquisition by the beloved Erased Tapes, and am looking forward to the many gorgeous moments with this newly found gem.April 2015 Headphone Commute
April 2015 The List
His career in film music spans two decades, including work with Michael Kamen on Event Horizon, David Arnold on the Sherlock television series and as a music editor on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but this will be the first album proper from British composer Michael Price. Based around his piano playing and synthesiser programming, Peter Gregson’s cello and Ashley Knight’s fragile soprano on ‘Maitri’ and ‘The Uncertainty Principle’, as well as a number of string players, it’s a purely classical experience which still bears degrees of comparison with the ambient electronic explorations of Tangerine Dream.
We first encountered Michael Price in late 2012 when reviewing his first solo EP. To recap: Price is a soundtrack composer with a startling body of work under his belt, all of which he has accrued since first being involved in a major film production in 1997, as co-producer on Event Horizon. Whether arranging, editing or scoring, Price has contributed to The Lord of the Rings, Children of Men and Band of Brothers, among many others. Our own Richard expressed hope that a full-length debut would be coming and, over two years later, his wish is now fulfilled. Not only is Entanglement a great achievement, completing Price’s metamorphosis to fully fledged artist, it’s also likely to be one of the vital releases of 2015 – a thoroughly contemporary record shrouded in the fine dust of former times. ‘I wanted to make an album that sounded like a dark, Berlin record store discovery from the 30s. Something that had timeless emotive power, and pre-digital rawness. Something that I hope would make a deeper connection in superficially networked times.’ Like crackling leaves in a stern breeze, listeners will be powerless to resist the drama that unfolds across and within this record’s nine pieces. Cinematic intensity is found throughout but, now untethered from the constraints of the soundtrack form, Price is able to transport us to a dazzling variety of settings far beyond the scope of a single film (bar Cloud Atlas, perhaps). We may start in a German record store, but are quickly swept away to – not just different settings, but presentations of settings. “Easter” sounds like nature awakening from long slumber, but the scattering of gentle yet hurried piano notes in its first two minutes further gives the impression of watching trees budding and birds rejoicing on a time-lapse video. Likewise, the orchestral middle movement of “Little Warm Thing” is so rich that it must surely be accompanying a dramatic scene from a silent movie, while “Maitri”, with its female soprano shattering the comfort developed in the first minute, immerses us amidst the spectacle of a grand opera. Whether deliberate or not, these suggestions of different art forms as well as settings imbue the record with great depth, making one consider the creation of art as well as the art itself. And it was through the processes of capturing his music as well as the music itself that Price sought to deliver a work of honesty, which he sees as an artist’s ‘duty’. This meant a recording approach focused on spontaneity and simplicity – single takes of the orchestra with vintage equipment and nothing to guide but human interaction. ‘[Just] the sound of musicians hearing, connecting and responding.’ That’s not to say that Price has eschewed modernity. Pieces such as “Budapest” revel in the combination of sweet violin lines soaring above a prowling, gnarly synth, both of which emerge after manipulated recordings captured on the streets of the titular city – by Price’s mobile phone. The spontaneity extends beyond the studio. The interlude “Digital Birds” mimics the final cry of the opera singer on the preceding track with an avian-like echo composed, as the title informs, digitally rather than organically. The decay employed makes the receding cries sound like waves breaking – brief respite for much-tugged heartstrings. The main triumph of Entanglement is the breadth of its emotional resonance. In quieter moments, such as gently piano-led “The Uncertainty Principle”, a backdrop of oh-so-quietly shrieking strings emerges to cast a diaphanous pall of tension over the calm. The closer, “Entanglement”, weaves sundry threads of conflicting feelings throughout its orchestrated tapestry – leaving one to wonder, What turbulence was playing out before Price upon its composition? And while on the whole the chamber sections are dynamic and fleeting, when a melody is laboured on, as in majestic album centrepiece “The Attachment”, the intertwining counter melodies burrow themselves deeper and deeper towards the core with each spiralling, aching repetition. Entanglement is at once honest and mysterious, contemporary and timeless, beautiful and heartbreaking. It may not be a soundtrack, but whatever it soundtracks in your life will be all the richer for its company. (Chris Redfearn)April 2015 A Closer Listen
Article is in French – you can read it here.April 2015 indiemusic
Article is in German – you can read it here.
Composer Michael Price may have attracted attention recently for being responsible alongside David Arnold for the soundtrack to the popular BBC series Sherlock, winning an Emmy in the process, but this was only the latest (if the most successful) of several high profile film/television scores he’s been involved in over the last decade. It’s this depth of experience and musical skillset that he puts to striking effect on his Erased Tapes released debut album Entanglement. Entanglement took over two years to make and it clearly shows – there’s a level of care and attention to detail evident, with each track seeming to serve its own particular purpose as well as contributing to a greater whole. Musically there’s a breadth and variety on display, with Price contributing piano to go alongside the string orchestra, cello, soprano voice and various subtle electronics and synths that also appear over the course of the 39 minutes. As with some of the best modern classical albums, an unknown storyline seems to subconsciously filter through the nine tracks. Price has explained that one of the key inspirations for the album is how science can shine metaphorical light on human relationships, but it’s also possible to make personal readings and interpretations into the music. The miniature mood-setter of Tape Overture gives way to Easter, the first of several tracks of individual interest. Sounding like the slow motion unfolding of a crisp spring morning, it was inspired by the bells of the Santa Maria della Salute church that Price heard whilst in Venice. He made recordings on his phone and when back in the studio improvised on piano using delays and echoes to beautiful effect. He employed a similar approach on Budapest, again using recordings of street activity made on his phone and growing them into something bigger. As a track it’s the epitome of understatement, all snowy purity and piecemeal gradations. The Attachment is the moment the album truly leaps off the page, however. There’s hints of Gavin Bryars in the small scale deteriorations that open the piece (no doubt due to it being partly recorded on a 1940s magnetic disc recorder). A theme is then located and amplified via the lushness and thickness of the strings and the directional guidance of the piano. It’s these two tracks, side by side, that shows Price’s adept management of balance and contrast. Maitri signals the next upwards shift, featuring the vocals of soprano Ashley Knight. There’s undoubtedly something Henryk Górecki-like about the tangible sadness, the feeling of missed opportunities and the sense of irretrievable situations that engulf the track. Later, The Uncertainty Principle strikes a similarly affecting note (both songs feature lines of Japanese poetry translated into English, as if the scale of the album wasn’t already sufficiently ambitious). In between, Digital Birds offers an abstract pause for breath and later, the title track brings things back full circle, allowing rays of warmth in to eventually help achieve a thawing effect. Entanglement is an album that needs to be considered alongside genre heavyweights like The Blue Notebooks by Max Richter or Englabörn by Jóhann Jóhannsson. It’s a timely reminder of how high modern classical music can reach. 5/5
Article is in Dutch – you can read it here.
Entanglement provides about as strong an argument for Michael Price as a soundtrack composer as could be imagined. Based on the evidence at hand, Price would seem to be a natural choice as the composer for some prestigious, yet-to-be-determined literary adaptation on the order of Pride and Prejudice or Madame Bovary. In that regard, one could easily imagine his name appearing on a short-list that would include names such as Dario Marianelli, Michael Nyman, and Alexandre Desplat. Written and recorded over a two-year period, the music on Price’s debut album, which augments his own piano playing with a rich complement of sounds that includes cello, soprano voice, string orchestra, modular synth, tape effects, and electronics, is elegant and emotive in the extreme. Contrast plays a significant part on the album, specifically in the way certain tracks embrace an unreserved emotionalism in their acoustic presentation, whereas others are a tad more experimental in their exploration of tape-related effects and electronics. The recording’s different sides are introduced successively via “Tape Overture,” whose raw chamber music transmissions transport us to an earlier time when recording technology was in its infancy, and “Easter,” a lustrous piano setting of tranquil and impressionistic character. Partially recorded onto a 1940s magnetic disc recorder, “The Attachment” similarly takes the listener back to a pre-digital era, even if its combination of strings and piano invites comparison to Nyman’s music at its most emotionally exposed. Reinforcing the soundtrack connection, the closing title track exudes a rousing spirit that makes it feel like the perfect music to accompany a film’s credits sequence. Price’s appetite for experimentalism surfaces in “Budapest,” where surging classical strings intersect with wobbly ambient sounds captured and processed on a mobile phone, and in “Digital Birds,” where electronics are cleverly used to evoke the creatures’ cries. The presence of strings and soprano vocalizing, on the other hand, lends the pieces on which they appear an intense classical character. On “Maitri,” for example, Ashley Knight’s multi-tracked voice soars high over a dense mass of strings, while “The Uncertainty Principle” sees her emoting alongside Peter Gregson’s cello and Price’s piano. One of Price’s goals for Entanglement was to create something that would have, in his own words, “timeless emotive power, … that would make a deeper connection in superficially networked times.” Price’s music is so genuine and emotionally direct, it can’t help but make a powerful impression, and one comes away from the recording impressed by its sincerity and beauty.
chilling beautiful dreamscapes…
Modern Composition Rich’s Pick: Michael Price ~ Entanglement (Erased Tapes, 13 April)
One can’t say enough about this amazing release, which we’ve been enjoying for a few months now. It’s the debut album for Price, whose orchestral EP was reviewed here a couple years back; suffice it to say that the artist has made good on his promise. Both orchestral and operatic, Entanglement stands out because it doesn’t sound like a film score; it sounds like a classical album for the 21st century, and should establish Price’s reputation for years to come.
London-based composer Michael Price shares a new one with us today. It’s called ‘Budapest’ and it’s taken from Entanglement, his forthcoming new album due for release 13th April via Erased Tapes Records. The piece is awash with dawn-summoning risings, slices of hope interwoven in the later dark leanings of the sound, capturing with slow majestic strings a city whose present day spirit is a cocktail of a past remembered with mixed emotions, and a future looked at with dubious expectancy. Speaking of his upcoming album, Michael Price said: “I wanted to make an album that sounded like a dark, Berlin record store discovery from the 30s. Something that had timeless emotive power, and pre-digital rawness. Something that I hope would make a deeper connection in superficially networked times. I think there is a duty for artists to be honest, and vulnerable. Because then there is a possibility of real connection. Entanglement is both honest and vulnerable and to go through the two year process of writing, refining and recording an album has been more intense and more beautiful than I could have possibly imagined. Entanglement is a very personal expression of my obsessions: music, love, physics and the inter-connectedness of things. There is structure and freedom, chaos and control, and the beauty of ancient instruments set against impassive machines.”March 2015 The 405
More Erased Tapes loveliness, this time from English composer Michael Price. Having amassed several film and TV scores to his name in the past 20 years, often in collaboration with David Arnold, Entanglement gave Price his first opportunity to create an album in its own right. His guiding principle here was “to make an album that sounded like a dark, Berlin record store discovery from the 30s. Something that had timeless emotive power, and pre-digital rawness”. And this he did, with a string orchestra, synths, electronic and tape effects, using vintage technology whenever possible – that wobbly fragility at the beginning of The Attachment comes from using a 1940s magnetic disk recorder. Fans of Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter et al will find a lot to love here. As in their case, it’s obvious that a seasoned soundtracker is at work, but on an album untroubled by outside commissioning, the composer’s ambition and love for their craft can really let loose. Entanglement’s nine pieces find Price in an often melancholy, but always evocative mood, whether focusing in on his own piano playing (the church bell-like tones of Easter) or filling out the sound with various shades of strings. Ambient city sounds, recorded by Price on his phone, give Budapest an extra travelogue authenticity. On two particular highlights, Maitri and The Uncertainty Principle, a guest soprano is featured (words below), which brought to mind for me Hans Abrahamsen’s Let Me Tell You, or even Górecki’s 3rd. Don’t miss this gorgeous album. June 2018 Slow Goes The Goose