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Root to Leaf
Tane Mahuta

John Metcalfe's new album, eight immersive compositions that take the listener through twenty-four hours in the life of one of nature's most majestic creations. Tree is set for release via Real World Records on 22 September 2023

The Durutti Column viola-playing master - a composer and arranger for the likes of U2, Coldplay, Peter Gabriel and Blur, as well as co-founder with Tony Wilson of the Factory Classical label - had been composing music spontaneously, instinctively, when the idea of Tree arrived. The album came from a desire in John Metcalfe to write at scale - perhaps a natural reaction for a composer writing out of the silences and solitude of our recent pandemic years.

“The pieces I was writing were big and trying to be bigger, so I knew they had to be to do with something - and then I thought about one of the most profound experiences of my life.”

He is referring to seeing Tane Mahuta as an adult, the largest known living kauri tree in the world. Set in an ancient subtropical rainforest on the North Island of Aoreatoa / New Zealand, John had spent his early childhood living in that part of the world after his British father had "escaped there as a ten-pound Pom".

Tree imagines what it would be like to be sat completely still under a tree that you love, being alive to the ever-shifting interplay of light, colour, weather and sound. Shimmering pulsating layered tracks take the listener on a voyage that takes in the dawn chorus, depicted by conversations between chirruping woodwind and staccato strings, through to the solemnity of dusk and into the playful night.

The album at times summons up the folkloric power of ancient forests through an emotional crescendo in emotion and sound, before bringing us back to sunrise, and a reflection on the journey we've taken.

  • Modern Classical Ambient

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