CD Release – Christopher Hale’s Sylvan Coda

An unconventional, freethinking proponent of the acoustic bass guitar, Christopher Hale is  ‘a remarkably talented and versatile young bassist [and] an enormously gifted composer and arranger’ (The Age). After a long creative hiatus following the passing of his closest friend and musical collaborator, Will Poskitt, Hale returns with a new album, a powerful and poignant love letter to his dear friend.

Sylvan Coda album cover with lion face optical illusion
Sylvan Coda cover

Sylvan Coda reaches deep into Hale’s formative years of immersion in Flamenco and Afro-Cuban music, and emerges as an album of poise and originality. Featuring a 10-piece band of guitars, voices and percussion and produced with Lachlan Carrick (Gotye, Lior, TheDrones) Sylvan Coda is an epic, widescreen vision: Cuban religious drums, Gian Slater’s angelic vocals, Flamenco brio and deep, insistent rock, saturated with technicolor emotion and hard-earned, heartbroken optimism.

‘It is not merely enough to have memories’, famously wrote German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, ‘not till they have turned to blood within us, to glance and gesture, nameless and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves – not till then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a verse arises in their midst and goes forth from them.’

The blood that flows through Sylvan Coda, Christopher Hale’s long awaited new album, is saturated with memories. For over 10 years, Hale led the celebrated Christopher Hale Ensemble with two long-time friends and colleagues: cellist Will Martina and the remarkable pianist Will Poskitt. Over three albums and numerous international tours, the Ensemble created a unique brand of improvising chamber music, which introduced the young musicians to the international stage and earned them a reputation as ‘one of Australia’s hottest groups’ (Musica Viva) for their ‘intimate, intricate and finely balanced music . . . which demonstrates how successfully this group blurs the line between chamber music and jazz’ (All About Jazz New York).

Following Will Poskitt’s tragic passing in November of 2008, Hale abandoned composing and recording under his own name. He began a Masters in Music Philosophy and traveled to New York to play with Barney McAll’s electronic project, Sylent Running. ‘Will was my closest friend, housemate, collaborator and inspiration,’ says Hale, ‘all of my composing life revolved around his sound, his sensibility. I felt as though my music couldn’t exist without him.’ As if seeking the comfort of the familiar, Hale also returned to a musical home base – the Flamenco musicians and dancers of the renowned company Arte Kanela, the group he has performed with since his late teens. ‘Flamenco is the most important musical and artistic reference point for me,’ explains Hale, ‘even when I’m playing other music that may stylistically sound different, I am striving for the feeling of Flamenco. The way it moves, the rhythmic depth, the dynamics, the gravity. It informs every part of my artistic life.’

Christopher Hale playing electric bass
Christopher Hale

The music of Sylvan Coda draws deeply on his flamenco background, as well as Cuban bata rhythms, classical music, melodic rock and North-East Brazilian percussion. Some influences are worn on the sleeve, others buried and ‘turned to blood’ within the music and at the heart of it all, Hale’s unique approach acoustic bass guitar. Critics have praised ‘his masterful technique enabling him to add chords and sonorous melodic phrases to the mix in addition to a straight bass line’ (Adelaide Advertiser).

‘Hale has been developing a sound that moves beyond the conventional rhythmic and harmonic roles of a bass player. Each note – even the silence between the notes – is filled with meaning” (The Age).

On this new album Hale has surrounded himself with close musical friends: from Arte Kanela, percussionists Johnny and Richard Tedesco and guitarist Nathan Slater; his colleagues from Sylent Running, drummer Ben Vanderwal and the acclaimed and prodigious vocalist Gian Slater; conga/bata player Javier Fredes and Hale’s first music teacher, Brazilian percussionist Denis Close.

Sylvan Coda will be released on Which Way Music (CD, LP & Digital Download).

CD launch concert

Wednesday August 15, 8pm  With hannah cameron and special guests at Northcote Social Club

Ticket enquiries ph: 1300 724 867 or via Corner Box Office (57 Swan St, Richmond)

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