These Skies In Which We Rust

Artist: John Law

Date of Release: 01/03/2015

Catalogue no: 33Xtreme 006

Label: 33 Xtreme

Price: £17

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Track Listing







When Planets Collide




Seven Ate Nine




The Music Of The Night




To Do Today: To Die




These Skies In Which We Rust




Lucky 13!




I Sink Therefore I Swam




Set Theory








Incarnadine Day




I Hold My Soul To The Wind






Appearances by

Josh Arcoleo, Yuri Goloubev

Double CD with 11 all new original compositions by John Law, in trio and quartet formations, some featuring subtle electronics.

John Law: composition/piano/keyboard/electronics/glockenspiel
Josh Arcoleo: tenor saxophone
Yuri Goloubev: double bass
Laurie Lowe: drums/percussion

Recorded at the wonderful studio of Curtis Schwartz, this double CD has been prepared to an extremely high standard, with beautiful accompanying artwork and booklet. A project of John's that took 4 years planning and preparation, the result is an extremely wide-ranging exposition of all the different influences in John Law's writing and playing. Features stunning instrumental playing and beautiful compositions, both complex and immediate/melodic.




01/03/2016 Robin Kidson

In 2011, the British composer and pianist, John Law, discovered that his teenage daughter, Holly, had been writing “…the most astonishing poetry. Reading through a collection she asked me to look at, I found I was particularly moved by one, 'These Skies In Which We Rust', which has, for me, an image at the end of greatJohn Law These Skies In Which We Rust power and mystery. I decided to do a new album, with new compositions, three of which would be based on her poems.”

This double CD, named after Holly’s poem, is the result. Eleven longish tracks, all Law compositions, are played by a trio of Law on piano, keyboard and glockenspiel, Yuri Goloubev on double bass, and Laurie Lowe on drums. The young British saxophonist, Josh Arcoleo, joins the trio on four of the tracks.

At the core of These Skies In Which We Rust is melodic contemporary jazz with a strong rhythmic pulse and some strikingly memorable and original tunes. But like so many European jazz musicians, John Law has taken on influences from a range of other genres which enrich the music and take it to a new level of sophistication and interest. One influence is electronic music, a genre which Law has explored in more detail in his Boink! project. So, for example, the first track on the album, When Planets Collide, begins and ends with a very effective electronic soundscape conjuring up images of outer space. In between the electronics, an insistent rock-like riff, played over and over again, drives the music on. Incidentally, rock is another genre which Law has effectively integrated into his music; and the use of repetitive and compelling riffs is a feature of many of the tracks on the album.

The other track on which electronic music is to the fore is Incarnadine Day (Track 4, CD 2). This is one of the three compositions inspired by Holly Law’s poems, the texts of which are included in the (beautifully presented) packaging of the CD. The poem is about 9/11 and the music is often suitably dark, although not without a kind of hope. Josh Arcoleo plays sax on the track – there is one particularly effective passage when the sax is electronically enhanced to produce a spectral echo. The instruments and the electronics work together in an effective and integrated way. Click here for a video of a live performance of the track.

Law is classically trained and has performed and recorded in a classical music context. His playing has been praised by Alfred Brendel, no less. And classical music is another strong influence on These Skies In Which We Rust. This is seen most obviously in the title track (Track 5, CD 1) which uses a sample from the Brahms Requiem and then manufactures a jazz theme and improvisation from it on top of another of those insistent rock beats. It is an original and splendid piece of music. Bach has long been a composer whose music is peculiarly suited to a jazz treatment but who’d have thought you could do the same with Brahms?

The classical influence is seen on a number of other tracks – there is, for example, a Philip Glass/Steve Reich John Law minimalism feel to tracks such as Set Theory (Track 2, CD 2), Conical (Track 3, CD 2), and To Do Today: To Die (Track 4, CD1). Set Theory also has a remarkable piano solo from Law which is so fast and dexterous that it sounds almost like one of Conlon Nancarrow’s experiments with player pianos.

Law also draws on the music of other cultures. The Music of the Night (Track 3, CD 1), for example, was inspired by an outdoor concert of African music which Law saw on holiday in France. Laurie Lowe plays an African ibo drum on this, and Arcoleo conjures up the sounds of a tropical night on his sax. Conical (dedicated to Law’s previous drummer, Asaf Sirkis) uses the South Indian Konnakol rhythmic system.

Interesting and complicated rhythms run through the whole album, particularly in To Do Today: To Die which includes a little chant rather like the one in Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, but in English accents and electronically enhanced.

I Sink Therefore I Swam (Track 1, CD 2) has another complex but foot tapping beat.
Perhaps the most conventionally jazz piece on the album is the final track, I Hold My Soul To The Wind which swings along nicely and has a gentler beat than some of the other tracks. There is some great interplay between Law and Goloubev, reminiscent of the playing of Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny on Beyond the Missouri Sky. The piece is inspired by another Holly Law poem and she joins the trio in some lovely wordless singing.


16/02/2015 Jakob Baekgaard

One of the things that is characteristic about British pianist John Law is that he does not stand still. He keeps on studying music and constantly adds new sounds and expressions to his vocabulary.

So far, his career has included many highlights, among them, a series of solo piano albums influenced by plainchant and his tetralogy The Art of Sound Vol. 1-4 (33 Records, 2007-2009).

The double-CD These Skies In Which We Rust is another high-water mark in Law's career. The title track, as well as two other compositions, is influenced by the poetry of his daughter, Holly Law, who also contributes wordless singing to her father's musical interpretation of her poem "I Hold My Soul To The Wind."

Like good poetry, the music is able to contain complex feelings and thoughts while still being able to speak directly to the listener. Law's great talent is that he is able to combine an advanced approach to rhythm and melody with an intuitive understanding of how music communicates on a deeper level.

The album includes experiments with rhythm ("To Do Today: To Die" and "I Sink Therefore I Swam") and subtle use of electronics ("Incarnadine Day" and "When Planets Collide"), but these experiments never become a goal in itself. They are aesthetic choices that add new shades and colors to the compositions.

The lineup on the album finds Law in the company of a new drummer, Laurie Lowe, who has also been a vital part of Law's electronic project Boink! He is able to take the music in different directions and responds empathically to the rhythmic challenges provided by the leader and he knows how to swing.

The bassist, Yuri Goloubev, is the perfect partner for Law. Like him, he combines a thorough understanding of classical and rhythmical music and knows how to combine different aesthetic impressions and transform them into his own sound.

The core of the album is the trio, but saxophonist Josh Arcoleo adds his strong saxophone playing on four compositions. Playing with a saxophonist certainly is not a new thing for Law, who has had a close musical relationship with the saxophonist Jon Lloyd for many years. His collaboration with Arcoleo is promising, but, right now, Arcoleo has already made his mark as an important guest on one of the significant releases in Law's discography and British jazz in general.


28/12/2014 Mary James

John Law’s latest New Congregation double CD release These Skies In Which We Rust certainly fulfils the promise heard earlier this year at The Forge and in John’s electronic project Boink! The New Congregation members may have changed, Laurie Lowe takes Asaf Sirkis’ place, Josh Arcoleo joins on sax but thankfully Yuri Goloubev remains. In short, dizzyingly beautiful tunes, magical effects and perfect playing make this my runner-up for Album of 2014.

Ambitious in scope – 11 own compositions with inspiration from his daughter’s poetry, elements of Brahms’ Requiem, tricky time signatures and electromagnetic pulses from outer space – individually the pieces can make your blood run cold (just let your mind go back to how you felt on 9/11 when you listen to Incarnadine Day inspired by the poem of that name by John’s daughter Holly) or transport you to a magical place with just one note of the glockenspiel. As always with John Law, there is breathtaking piano, he’s our 21st century Bach, cinematic tunes that grab you instantly, lyricism propelled by the lightning fast fingering and sublime sense of romance of Goloubev, the controlled seething, fizzing drums of Lowe. A fresh sound in the New Congregation is Josh Arcoleo whose sax adds coolness and irony in Music of the Night. The final track I Hold My Soul To The Wind features lovely wordless vocals from Holly Law (whose poem may have the voice of a teenager but has universal poignancy) and heartbreaking bass. The sound and mixing from Curtis Schwartz at Berry House Studios, Ardingly is perfect.


Mary James 28 December 2014


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