“Conventional Western music is like a statue; my music is like a tree”. A bold statement perhaps, but one that Edward Chilvers justifies on his forthcoming album, entitled ‘31 Pieces’ and released on 24 March 2021 on Mozart Records. He is different. BBC TV said of him, “Composing music has never sounded quite like this”. The Times added, “Edward Chilvers has revived a tradition used by composers including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart of creating pieces driven by randomness”. Steinway & Sons has extended an invitation to Edward to perform and talk about his work in a live streamed event from London’s Steinway Hall at 7pm on 16 December 2020.
As Classic FM said, “For Chilvers, this method is the future of music”. Whilst the album, factually, is made up of ‘31 Pieces’, Chilvers sees the work as not something that is or should be broken into segments but rather something that has been conceived and executed as a contiguous whole with elements fading into one another, with silence or inertia never gaining the upper hand. The music on ‘31 Pieces’ will never be performed twice in exactly the same way. The music captured on the 3CD release itself serves as the ‘parent’ version – whilst each of the 3CDs works as a standalone record, together they have a deeper unity.
The foundation of Chilvers’ work is in experimenting with speed radios and mode, its DNA is coded with the infinite variety that reflects that existing within Nature. When he rolls his dice, the unpredictability generated rages within the strictures of the format that he has created. A statue, by contrast, is immutable and a competent pianist will always play a traditionally formed piece in the same predictable and perfect way. A tree can be recognisably an oak, but each one is different due to the impact of myriad variables like wind, or soil type.
Whilst the approach taken by Edward Chilvers on this album may seem, at first look, more akin to the recent feature written for The Guardian by AI than a free-flowing jam session at his beloved Glastonbury [he always attends and performs on pop-up stages], in fact the opposite is true. By scoring a victory over conventional structure, he is now blazing his own trail. Chilvers started by playing up to four different tempos simultaneously, disguising the pulse in his music by using phase patterns deliberately contrasting to the tempos; moving away from conventional rhythmical form. He then began to compose beautiful etudes as an exploration in poly-tempo, taking a rich understanding and reverence for western classical harmony; and reshaping it.
As he says himself, “I wanted to create a multi-dimensional music to reflect the unspeakable experience of the stilled mind. I’m trying to make laws: polyrhythmic laws, phasing laws, modal laws, structural laws. If I can make good laws then something interesting or beautiful should come out”.
‘31 Pieces’, then, represents not only a beautiful album that hangs together as a whole, but also the rolling back of boundaries. Edward Chilvers draws inspiration from a myriad of influences, from Bach, Wagner and Beethoven through to Boards Of Canada, Squarepusher, Bill Evans, Radiohead, and Meshuggah. However, it was the Bwiti music of Gabon in West Africa, with its incessant, intense use of poly-tempo via harp, voice and drums, that inspired him to seek to stretch the capacity of what is humanly possible to play on the piano.
For more information head to www.edwardchilvers.com