Composer Richard J. Birkin presents matterlightblooming, a bold and epic orchestral work recorded with the London Contemporary Orchestra (Radiohead, Actress, Micachu, Steve Reich), one of the world's most sought-after orchestras. This is his first album since 2016’s critically-acclaimed Vigils (“A small miracle” - Drowned in Sound).
Recorded with a 16-piece LCO string ensemble at Angel Studios, London
+ LCO quartet at Air Edel Studios, London
The album was conceived as a soundtrack to a story written by Birkin about technology, empathy, and where we go next. Recorded in London, Derbyshire and Leeds, Birkin delicately weaves synths, pianos and drums around the orchestra, creating something that feels melancholic yet optimistic, intimate yet epic, mysterious yet familiar.
The album's title is taken (with kind permission) from George Saunders' Man Booker winning novel Lincoln in the Bardo. The 'matterlightblooming phenomenon' is a phrase used to refer to the rush of energy and light that occurs when a soul departs the liminal space between life and death. Whenever someone moves on from their transitional state, the matterlightblooming phenomenon claims their body, creating a “bone-chilling firesound” as it whisks them away. Birkin was reading the book when he happened upon his own “firesound”, that can be heard in the distance on tracks such as ‘Light’ and ‘Blooming’.
“I was writing the music and thinking about transformation, other states being, drastic change. A blooming of kaleidoscopic possibilities for humankind, in the face of what feels like a decline. There is also a thread of loss throughout the album, for what is left behind or what could have been.”
Between albums, Richard has been writing and recording at Abbey Road Studio 2 as part of the Abbey Road Masters team of media composers along with Michael Price (Erased Tapes) and Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch (Fatcat/130701) as well as and producing the piano prodigy Shane Thomas and writing the soundtrack for Jon McGregor’s Man-Booker nominated novel Reservoir 13. Since it’s 2016 release, tracks from Vigils have been used in The Young Pope starring Jude Law, and the Silvio Berlusconi biopic Loro.
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Written, orchestrated and produced by Richard Birkin
Performed by Richard Birkin and The London Contemporary Orchestra.
Recorded at Angel Recording Studios (Studio 3), London, May 2019.
The London Contemporary Orchestra, conducted by Hugh Brunt:
First Violins - Sophie Mather, Sophie Locket, Gillon Cameron, Marianne Haynes, Violeta Barrena
Second Violins - Emily Holland, Guy Button, Nicole Crespo O’Donoghue
Violas - Zoë Matthews, Ian Anderson, Matthew Kettle, Matthew Maguire
Celli - David Lale, Daisy Vatalaro, Abi Hyde-Smith
Double Bass - Frances Emery
Engineer: Jeremy Murphy
Composer’s Assistant: Robin Newman
Except 2, 9, 10 - Recorded at Air Edel, London, October 2019.
The London Contemporary Orchestra quartet:
First violin - Eloisa-Fleur Thom
Second violin - Alessandro Ruisi
Viola - Zoe Matthews
Cello - Brian O'Kane
Piano - Richard Birkin
Engineer: Nick Taylor.
Assistant Engineer: Tom Bullen
Vocals on Boats: Maria Michael Machin (Grawl!x) and Richard Birkin. Lyrics by Maria Michael Machin.
Recorded by Richard Collins and Robin Newman at Snug Recording Company, Derby, October 2019.
Drums on Lander and Boats: Liam Stewart.
Recorded by Andy Hawkins at The Nave, Leeds, October 2019.
All other instrumentation performed by Richard Birkin, and tracked at twentyRow 2018/19 (except bass and electric guitar on Lander, which were recorded by Andy Hawkins at The Nave, Leeds, October 2019)
Mixed by Andy Hawkins at The Nave, Leeds, October 2019.
Mastered by Dave Draper, April 2020.
Eternal Golden Thanks:
Brady, Maggie, Mum and Dad, Dave & Pauline, Jonny, Robbie, Hugh, Alanna, Dorothy, Spitfire Audio, Aaron Bradbury, Jim Cork, Oliver Craven, Paul Beal, Ian Draper, Maria, Sophie Barkerwood, Rolo Tomassi and Rich Collins. Adam Soffe, Robyn Kennedy and Jonathan Tester @ Bucks, Sam Lenthall, Ross Sellwood and Fred Clifton @ Globe, Samuel Sim, Paul Saunderson, Arts Council England, Tom Armitage, Matt and Ann, Russell, Toby, Jon McGregor, dbh, Liam. The engineers and staff at Angel Studios and Air Edel. The LCO players and team. Andy @ The Nave, Dave Draper, Tom and Lee @ Reveal.
This project was funded by Arts Council England and DAB HAND Productions.
Richard Birkin is a recording artist and composer for TV & Film. His work has been recorded/performed by the London
Contemporary Orchestra quartet, ISKRA Strings and Sinfonia Viva players; recorded at Abbey Road Studio 2 and Nils Frahm’s Durton Studio; featured in the Sky Atlantic/Canal+ series The Young Pope starring Jude Law; and licensed by Armani, BBC Radio 4 and NASA....more