From banging out hymns at his school assembly to playing Shostakovich (with Orchestra) on a South Bank Centre stage as a 10 year old to filling the keys’ seat through the nineties and noughties for the Brand New Heavies, Zero 7 and a bit later someone called Adele, Londoner Neil Cowley’s piano skills have taken him on some journey. Of course he’s more than a session man, carving out an impressive catalogue of his own music over the last twenty-plus years, primarily with his dynamic, forward thinking jazz trio which, together with the likes of Acoustic Ladyland, Empirical and The Invisible, laid the foundations for the UK nu-jazz explosion that came later.
But Cowley has never been one to rest easy on his own significance as a musician. After more than a decade developing their distinctive sound the trio was put on an indefinite sabbatical in 2018. Pausing, reflecting, whatever, Cowley finally re-emerged in 2021 with ‘Hall Of Mirrors’, a solo album that surprised and impressed with its subtle merging of elegiac piano with lyrical electronica. It left you eager for the next instalment in this latest venture.
Well the wait will soon be over with his new album ‘Battery Life’ arriving on 24th March via his own label Mote. Speaking of what’s to come Cowley has reassured that “There’s this underpinning of acoustic piano at the centre, because that always represents the human in everything I do”. That may be the essence but the friction and the fizz, the shading and the shadows will come once more from the electronic intricacies he fuses into the tunes via his bank of vintage synths, drum pads and gizmos. Listening to the latest preview track, Ticker Tape, the dexterous fingertip piano patterns, the precision shunt of the rhythm, the swirling synth slipstream and you can sense the sustenance and energy that ‘Battery Life’ will ultimately provide to anyone who gets connected.
Pre-order you copy of ‘Battery Life’ by Neil Cowley from your local record store or direct from: https://neilcowley.bandcamp.com/album/battery-life
Also catch one of Neil’s European tour dates this spring :
21/04 – Bristol Beacon, Bristol
22/04 – St Michaels Church, Manchester
23/04 – Stereo, Glasgow
25/04 – Turner Sims, Southampton
26/04 – Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
27/04 – Grand Junction, London
28/04 – Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich
04/05 – Stadtgarten, Cologne
05/05 – Nachtasyl, Hamburg
06/05 – Weltecho, Chemnitz
07/05 – Privatclub, Berlin
09/05 – Neues Schauspiel, Leipzig
14/05 – Bimhuis, Amsterdam