Today in MOAI Magazine we step out of our usual style to embrace a piece of music of great elegance, feelings and beauty.
James Heather’s story is an interesting one to say the least. Growing up in Southampton, with grandparents who taught him to tune a piano and play it, he began creating his own compositions at the age of eleven. But in the meantime, his classical training was peppered with all sorts of influences, from the acid house he heard coming from his neighbours to jazz jams organised a couple of doors down the road.
In his twenties, he moved to London and worked for Ninja Tune Records from 2003. But a fatal car accident, which even put him in a coma, left one of his fingers in such a bad state that he wondered if he could ever play like he did before the accident. Fortunately, we can see that James is still playing beautifully.
His recording career began with the release of Water Sonatas on Soundcloud, which received good reviews and led him to create the tracks which would become his debut album. 2017 saw the release of his first official release, Modulations: EP1, on the recently resurrected Ahead Of Our Time, the original label of Ninja Tune founders Coldcut. Those seven tracks were the preview to what would become that debut album, Stories From Far Away In Piano, which saw its vinyl release in May 2018.
Despite being an artist from this new school of musicians from a post-classical era, Heather has had (and hopefully will have in the future) connections to electronic music. Proof of this is the release also in 2018 of Reworks, with reconstructions of his tracks by DJ Seinfeld, Aparde, Echo Collective, Mary Lattimore, Chihei Hatakeyama, Sarah Davachi and versions by James himself with string arrangements.
The track he has just released, Passing Soul, is a piece of extraordinary beauty compressed into less than three minutes. The artwork is by his regular collaborator, Suki, and was photographed in the same room where the EP, Modulations: EP2, which is due for release on 28 May, was recorded.
Let’s enjoy this little wonder in preview mode for now. You can pre-order Modulations: EP2 here.