Greg Haines – Piano Improvisations
Recorded May 2010
Greg Haines is an English musician and composer currently living in Berlin, who specialises in exploring the middle-ground between the academic world of contemporary classical music and the freedom found in the desire to manipulate and experiment with sound itself.
He was born in a small Southern-English town in the 1980’s, where through boredom with his surroundings he began to take an interest in music and started to develop a particular interest in the idea of technology not simply being used to record instruments, but instead being used as the instrument itself. Around this time, an enthusiastic music teacher began to introduce Haines to the works of ‘Minimalist’ composers such as Steve Reich, Gavin Bryars, Philip Glass and more – composers that he still considers major influences over his work. At this turning point, Greg began to develop his piano (and eventually cello) playing, feeling the desire to pursue his interest in textural and deceptively-complex contemporary classical music. Having neither the ability or the resources to write music for large ensembles, he began layering and processing his own sounds in the studio to create the desired result. Shortly after, Haines discovered the work of Arvo Pärt, and in it found his biggest inspiration to date. Pärt’s intricate use of both space and density informed Greg’s first solo release, ‘Slumber Tides’, released on the Norwegian Miasmah label in 2006. The album was critically acclaimed worldwide, leading one writer to state: “This is music to fall into and let it embrace your heart and soul. Be warmed and sadden by its slow unfolding beauty and grace. Clearly one of the most luxurious and emotional rich debut albums you’re likely to come across this year, or any other year for that matter.“ (Musique Machine). Later, the opening track from the album, ‘Snow Airport’, would be used on the Universal/Point Music compilation ‘Reflections on Classical Music’, alongside compositions from some of the very composers who inspired it, such as Gavin Bryars, Philip Glass and Akira Rabelais.
In the wake of his debut, Greg toured Europe extensively and began to develop as a live performer, and in particular as an improviser. With his most frequent collaborator, Danny Saul, the duo ‘Liondialer’ was formed around the concept of purely improvised music, with no discussion in advance of performances and no pre-ordained strategies. Other notable collaborations include work with Machinefabriek, Wouter Van Veldhoven and Dustin O’Halloran, and live performances with Ben Frost, Peter Broderick, Sam Amidon and many more. Since 2008, Greg has also been working regularly in the contemporary dance world, creating music for choreographers such as Meg Stuart (Berlin), Ina Christel Johannessen (Oslo) and the MD Collective (Cologne).
In recent times, Haines has spent less time touring and more time as an invitee to residencies at festivals and schools including work as a composer in residence at Theale School of Performing Arts (UK) for 2009/2010. In March 2010, he will released his second album on Berlin’s Sonic Pieces. Entitled ‘Until the Point of Hushed Support’, it is a forty-eight minute composition written for string quintet, church organ, piano, percussion, electronics and a whole array of other sounds and textures that have been carefully collected and constructed over the past two years.