Trio HLK: Standard Time (UBU0006)
'Standard Time' is the eagerly-anticipated debut album from Scottish ensemble Trio HLK and sees the innovative Trio collaborate with the world's leading percussionist, Dame Evelyn Glennie and acclaimed saxophonist and Guggenheim Fellow, Steve Lehman.
'Standard Time', the debut album from Trio HLK, released on 11th May 2018 on Ubuntu Music, is driven by a single artistic concept, namely to deconstruct classic tunes and rework them using contemporary classical compositional techniques. The album's two special guest artists, percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and contemporary jazz alto saxophonist, Steve Lehman, emphasise the specific drawing together of these languages. The Trio's conceptual vision permeates every aspect of the new album, right down to the artwork, which depicts a deconstructed clock whose components reference elements of each track. The result is a fully-realised stand-alone artwork and album.
Trio HLK noted: "We are all thrilled to be working alongside our wonderful guest artists, who are both operating at the very top of their game and who each have brought their own particular and highly significant layers of colour to our cherished debut album".
Steve Lehman said of his collaboration with Trio HLK: “Wonderful playing and some of the most interesting compositions I’ve come across in the past few years” whilst Dame Evelyn Glennie commented: “Collaborating with Trio HLK has been a wonderful journey of exploration, a challenge that I have thoroughly enjoyed. It has allowed me to venture out of my comfort zone, explore new rhythms and marvel at the Trio’s compositional prowess. I’m really looking forward to performing these new pieces and seeing the CD on the shelves”.
Trio HLK is the union of three distinct, forward thinking personalities. At the centre sits drum virtuoso, Richard Kass, a powerful engine whose multi-limbic facility affords him a wealth of textures unimaginable and unplayable for most drummers. His work often draws comparisons to electronica and computer-generated music. The standard drum set is augmented here by numerous bells and chimes, hugely expanding the range of possible sounds. Guitarist Ant Law plays a bespoke extended range electric guitar with 8 strings and a variety of effects, creating critical ambience and sonorities. At the helm sits classical pianist and composition mastermind, Richard Harrold, who studied composition both at the Royal Academy of Music and at Yale. His approach encompasses re-composition and de-composition as much as pure composition itself.
Trio HLK's music draws primarily on contemporary classical music and jazz. Many of their pieces take material from existing jazz standards, such as fragments of melody or harmony, which then become the raw material for intricate new pieces, resulting in familiar threads leading the listener into distant territory. Trio HLK is fascinated by rhythmic and harmonic ambiguities and the Trio's music endeavours to play with the perceptions and expectations of the listener.
A recent sold out collaboration with Cory Henry (of Snarky Puppy fame) at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival 2015 drew a great deal of attention to the trio, with BBC Rado 3's 'Jazz on 3' noting: “One of the most exciting young ensembles to have emerged in the last year".
"The Trio's deconstruction of jazz classics could easily have sounded mannered, but instead I found it genuinely complex, uncompromising, at times very beautiful and above all deeply engaging. I'd never heard anything quite like it (a novel experience at a jazz gig) and was immediately hooked."
Trio HLK's music features dense, complex rhythms and textures and virtuosic improvisation. The Trio's work is strewn with temporal distortions, modulations, implied modulations, rhythmic tricks and harmonic ambiguities. Whilst it references a huge and disparate range of styles, the Trio's signature sound distils and unifies the players with a unique instrumentation and fearless approach. The meeting point of the composed and the improvised is often hard to discern, an effect achieved by the countless hours the band has spent practising together. The resulting music operates on a number of levels, making it both accessible and cerebral. Trio HLK's music sounds genuinely fresh and genuinely new.
“A rocking, urgent musical kaleidoscope. Their compositions are highly evolved … they're at the top of the class when it comes to stringent application of a demanding but rewarding style".
“One of the grooviest, hippest young bands...rhythmically and melodically a great combination of subtlety and strength".
Kevin Le Gendre