Mojo (UK)

James Heather

Stories From A Far Away Piano AHEAD OF OUR TIME. CD/DL/LP

- David Sheppard

Debut long-player from thoughtful ambient pianist, on Coldcut’s label. Recorded in Peckham, but with a global brief, James Heather’s abstract solo piano works are inspired by internatio­nal news stories – from jihadist interventi­ons to air disasters. Occupying a similar ground to the cerebral but accessible études of Max Richter and Nils Frahm, his pieces are brief, full of space and punctuated with poignantly melancholy – but never overly sombre – melodic figures. Thus, Empire Sounds recalls some of Richter’s more emotionall­y raw keyboard works, only with an added jazzy undertow, while the initially spare MHope summons the ineffable nostalgia of prime Harold Budd before blossoming into a dreamy meditation worthy of Virginia Astley’s From Gardens Where We Feel Secure, then darkens again. Not everything convinces – opener Ruquia is really just a circling motif that goes nowhere in particular – but, for the most part, Heather’s compositio­ns are subtle evocations that reward repeated listening.

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