This is in many ways a brave record. Neo-classical composer and pianist James Heather has just released the a new version of his track ‘Hidden Angel’ via Coldcut’s label Ahead of our Time and as you would expect from the boundary pushing explorer of ‘pulse’ music, it’s a piece with resounding emotional depth.
A re-interpretation of the tune that first appeared last year on Heather’s acclaimed ‘Invisible Forces’ album and which reflected on his experience of recovery from a near fatal road accident in 2008, there is poignancy to working on this second version as it lands on the 15th anniversary of the incident. Originally a compassionate sombre solo piano work conceived as a letter to the lorry driver who knocked Heather from his bike, the composer now considers that ‘it is not my own story anymore, the themes of forgiveness and overcoming bitterness we may carry around are beyond just me’.
To open up the tune from its deeply personal origins, Heather has collaborated with other artists close to him: prize- winning poet Roger Robinson; electronic musician and sound artist Penelope Trappes; and ambient sound sculptor and sometime sax player Specimens. Developed from improvising together in the studio for a day, ‘Hidden Angel’ has emerged as sensitive but also progressive re-imagination and a significant piece of new music in its own right. From the Frahm-like levitation of Heather’s piano to Specimens’ gently aching sax, from Penelope Trappes delicate electronica touches to Roger Robinson’s tender spoken word, this 2023 version digs down further into the heart and soul.
Order your copy of ‘Hidden Angel (Hackney Road Studio Session)’ direct from Ahead of Our Time HERE