(Photograph by Tom Oldham) John Metcalfe, a British composer, arranger, and violist based in the UK, who is a member of the Duke Quartet and previously associated with the renowned English post-punk band The Durutti Column, has unveiled details about his forthcoming album, “Tree.”
The album is set to be released on September 22nd in vinyl, CD, and digital formats through Real World Records.
You can already listen to the initial track titled “Xylem,” which derives its name from the vascular tissue found in plants – the element that, as John elucidates, “bestows strength upon a tree.”
Listen to “Xylem” below.
The concept for the album emerged from John Metcalfe’s aspiration to compose on a grand scale. He explains, “The compositions I was crafting were immense, aiming to be even larger. Consequently, I knew they had to be inspired by something significant. That’s when I recollected one of the most profound experiences of my life.” He is referring to his encounter with Tāne Mahuta during his adulthood, which happens to be the largest known living kauri tree globally. Situated within an ancient subtropical rainforest on the North Island of Aoreatoa/New Zealand, John had spent his early childhood in that region, as his British father had “emigrated there as a ten-pound Pom.”
After relocating to England during his childhood, John returned to New Zealand with his wife at the age of 26. He reminisces, “…we thought it would be a typical tourist attraction, with the intention of witnessing the trees, which was fantastic – but we were not prepared for the profound impact it would have.” Both he and his wife were moved to tears upon encountering Tãne Mahuta, and John still finds himself amazed by his own reaction. He adds, “…as an atheist, it was the closest I have ever come to a spiritual moment… There was something extraordinary about the ambiance within the forest, the immense size of the tree, and the notion that it had stood there for an extensive period. It was the sense of protection it offered and the feeling of connection we experienced with that sense of security.”
This record isn’t a political statement, but it’s clear to him that as science progresses, and as climate breakdown progresses, people are trying to find deeper ways to understand and cherish nature. “It’s about the music that people are trying to create to connect with things that are huge and beautiful and inexplicable around them.”
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