Karl Hyde live band

Some very exciting news I can announce at last: I’m part of a live band formed by Karl Hyde of Underworld which will be touring this year to promote his first solo album, Edgeland.

I met first met Karl in 2009 when he and Brian Eno were preparing for their Pure Scenius project (which included Edgeland’s co-producer Leo Abrahams.) Like Brian, Karl has a genuine passion and excitement for making music that’s a joy to be around. When I heard he was putting a band together, I did something I rarely do, and with a modest cough hinted that I might possibly know a keyboardist who would be interested. I’m delighted that he indulged me. The band – I’ll let the other musicians identify themselves – has been rehearsing this last week, and I can’t wait for us to take it out on the road.

Sonar Tokyo is the only date that has been announced so far and I haven’t any other information. Meanwhile, here’s the track Cut Clouds, one of my favourite tracks from the album:

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Meet the Developers Video Podcast

On October 5th, Brian Eno and I were invited by the Apple to give a talk about our new app Scape at their store on Regent Street, London. This has now been released as a podcast. It’s 45 minutes long, including a Q&A session at the end, available as both video and audio. I’d recommend the video version, as there are sections where we’re displaying Scape as we discuss it.

It was an extremely enjoyable to talk onstage with Brian, and as an unashamed Apple fanboy, a thrill to do so at the stylish Apple Store on Regent Street. Slightly peculiar seeing myself onscreen for the first time. It looks like I’m getting well on my way in my long planned transition into a mad professor.

We also filmed an interview to Matt Cowan from Reuters earlier this week, which has been cropping up on news channels around the world. I believe a longer edit may surface at some point. Matt’s also posted some pictures from the interview.

On an unrelated note, I’ve reviewed the atmospheric iPad puzzler “The Room” on my Unworldly blog.

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Talk with Brian Eno in London at Apple Retail Store

Brian and I will be discussing our new iPad app Scape and more with Matt Jones this Friday, October 5th at 5:30 pm at the Apple Retail Store, Regent Street, London. There’s no reserved seating, so if you’d like to come, please get there early.

In the past week, we’ve given several interviews concerning Scape:

Guardian Interview, with Stuart Dredge
Wired UK, with Ian Steadman
Brian in conversation with Rory-Cellan Jones (BBC)

More to come!

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Scape for the iPad by Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers

Scape is a new iPad app I’ve been developing with Brian Eno for nearly two years. Although it is a further venture into generative music, it’s very different to our earlier apps, Bloom and Trope.

View Scape on the App Store

Here’s a video of Scape in action, narrated by a mystery voice:

We actually released Scape last week, but unfortunately there was a nasty issue causing a crash at startup for some users. After spotting a pattern – all of the emails were from non-English speaking European countries – we were able to narrow it down to a regional setting. An update is now available from the App Store which fixes the problem. Sorry if you were affected by this bug!

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I’ve started a new blog at unworldly.co.uk, focussed on some of the unusual and artistic apps that have been released for the iPhone and iPad over the four years since it started.

I’ve realised that recently I’ve been more excited by apps than music. It’s still a young platform finding its own vocabulary, but there are some extraordinary titles appearing that are fast establishing entire new genres. Outside of software, art has traditionally been static, art works set in stone as soon as an artist has finished working on it. Software can be fluid and flexible, able to respond to its user and even change form completely.

That said, I had a very enjoyable Letka recording session with Steve Bingham yesterday, and have been playing Husky Rescue‘s album Ship of Light to death over the last few days. There’s still plenty to keep my interested in good old-fashioned albums.

Incidentally, this wasn’t the big announcement I was mentioning in my previous post… that’s still to come!

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“Free” album anniversary / Slow Electric / Letka / Facebook

Ten years ago today, I tried an experiment in viral distribution. I recorded an album, and gave away two CDRs to friends at a gig in Canada. Each bore the instructions that in return for getting the album for free, the recipient should make at least two copies, and give them away to other friends who might like it.

Obviously, if that kind of exponential duplication had continued unchecked CDR copies would now cover the earth to a depth of seven inches, so presumably it hit some cul-de-sacs. But I’d love to find out how far it reached. I once had the experience of sitting at a table in Cambridge, UK, and seeing someone from Spain pass on a copy, so at very least it hopped two countries.

If you received or duplicated copies, please drop me a line at this email address:


It’d be great if you could let me know what country you’re based in, and pass the email on to anyone else who you think received the CD. I apologise, but I’m unlikely to be able to reply.

I gave the CD a listen for the first time in ages – well, actually on an MP3, technology has moved on a little in the last ten years. I liked the two songs, and the four motel pieces, the others sound a little too digital to me now. If you have the CD, I hope you found something that you liked.

In another news, you can also now follow me via Facebook. I’ve only just set it up, so please ignore the sound of tumbleweed blowing past.

The Slow Electric album is now available on iTunes. A mixture of atmospheric songs and textural improvisation, it features Tim Bowness and Uma with a guest appearance from bass legend Tony Levin. Slow Electric will also be performing live in Estonia on December 7th, joined by Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin. Click here for more information and a psychedelic poster.

Letka will be performing live at the Green Note in Camden this Sunday, joined again by violin maestro Steve Bingham.

A big announcement to come soon!

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Letka Album with guest appearance from Brian Eno

After a long incubation period, I’m pleased to announce a new album from Letka, a project with Irish vocalist Sandra O’Neill. Here’s the press the release:

“From the opening Beyond the Fold, featuring backing vocals and production from Brian Eno, to its epic closing track I Dream a Highway, Far Off Country seamlessly combines Country and Ambient influences in a uniquely ethereal way.

Featuring layered vocals, treated guitars, pedal steel and electronic textures, the six track collection of traditional songs, covers and new compositions represents a warm reflection of the desolate landscapes of the Mid West.

The evocative digipack, designed by Carl Glover, features images from his archive of photographs of American ghost towns.”

The album is available for preorder now from on Burning Shed, release date is 16th January 2012. It will also be available on iTunes from that date.

Several excerpts are available on Letka’s SoundCloud page.

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Piano Album on iTunes

‘Piano’, my imaginatively titled album of solo piano improvisations from 2006 is now available from iTunes.

The album was inspired by the ECM solo piano albums from Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock that began appearing in the early seventies. While I can’t claim to be remotely in the league of those extraordinary musicians, improvisation has always been central to my playing and I think there’s something unique to the structures that emerge from spontaneous composition.

I created the video below using the wonderful ‘Terragen’ package. Originally I’d intended this to accompany the ‘A Marble Calm’ track ‘Another World’, and created an unreal landscape using the colours from the album cover, but in the end I felt it suited Piano better.

I dedicated the album to many of the people who in some way encouraged or shaped my interest in the piano. Sadly two of those people have since passed away.

Lynda Phipps died several years ago after a long struggle with cancer. She taught music at my school in Bath, and her encyclopaedic knowledge of classical music was matched only by her enthusiasm in conveying the subject. My fondest memories of senior school were of the tiny A-Level classes, which were simply comprised of me, my friend Peter Gay, Lynda and a piano. She had an extraordinary ability to turn to the piano at any point in the lesson, and begin playing from memory sections of whatever piece was in discussion, arranging it as she went to pick out whatever melodies were relevant to the point she was making. I’ve since discovered that the musician and comedian Bill Bailey was a former pupil. He wrote a very touching tribute to her in the Times Educational supplement. By an extreme coincidence, Peter and I were also at the gig in Cambridge he mentions. We’d met in a pub prior to seeing Bill Bailey perform, and were discussing how we’d like to get in touch with Lynda. When we turned up at the venue, there she was at the door as if she’d been expecting to see us. Wonderful to see her again.

Professor Tony Oakhill treated me at Bristol Children’s Hospital when I was extremely ill back in the early 1980s. Although he was a pioneer in treating childhood cancers, it’s his sense of humour I remember most, a hugely reassuring presence to both children and parents alike. I continued to see him yearly as an outpatient throughout my teens and into early adulthood, when I could barely fit into the waiting room chairs, designed for younger frames. When he learnt of my interest in music, he suggested I give Keith Jarrett a listen. Although I had been improvising at the piano for some time, I had no idea that this was something people actually did in public, and the introduction to the ECM catalogue broadened my musical tastes and gave me a context in which to work. It’s a terrible and unjust tragedy that having given so much of his life to treating cancer in others, he finally succumbed to the disease himself at only 56. I’m deeply grateful to him for the gifts he gave me and many others.

Rest in peace.

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Slow Electric Video

Here’s a new video for Towards the Shore, the opening song from the upcoming Slow Electric album:

The video, expertly filmed in pristine 1080p HD by my friend Dion Johnson in several locations around South East England, draws from the first half of the seven minute song, and features an exquisite chapman stick solo from Tony Levin. As with the rest of the album, the track was based on a recording of a live concert made in Estonia, which was then reworked in the studio. The trumpet and guitars were from the performance itself. Tim re-recorded his vocals in his home studio, and I added extra keyboard textures. Tony Levin, not present at the original concert, overdubbed bass and chapman stick parts from his own studio.

I’d intended to keep the original piano performance, but unfortunately it was plagued by an intermittent clicking sound from the sustain pedal. As a result, I had to attempt to recreate the it by viewing the waveform on the screen, and attempting to play whenever a peak appeared. The process took an entire afternoon, about twenty times longer than it took to play the original piece. It’s possibly the only occasion in life where I’ve wished I’d spent more time playing Guitar Hero.

The album is released through the Panegyric label on 10th October, and can be preordered online at Burning Shed via slowelectric.com. A free download EP will available with all preorders.

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Slow Electric

Slow Electric

Slow Electric, a project I’ve recorded with No-Man’s Tim Bowness and Estonian duo Uma is now available for preorder from Burning Shed.

The album is being released via Robert Fripp’s Panegyric label, and features a guest appearance from the legendary Tony Levin, on bass and chapman stick. Still pinching myself over that bit.

You can listen to Another Winter below, a track from the album on which I was playing the iPad and adding keyboard textures. The vocals were re-recorded for reasons of sound quality, but otherwise this track is unchanged from the original live recording.

Here’s the full blurb from Burning Shed:

“Initially formed to play three dates at the 2010 Estonian Jazz Festival, Slow Electric is a new project from Tim Bowness and Peter Chilvers, and the Estonian duo UMA (guitarist Robert Jurjendal and trumpeter Aleksei Saks).

Using recordings from the concerts as a basis, Bowness recorded new vocals and Chilvers contributed additional keyboards and atmospherics. King Crimson’s Tony Levin added some of his unique bass/chapman stick to two of the album’s six songs, and the multi-tracks were subsequently mixed by ace Zurich-based percussionist/producer Andi Pupato (Nik Bartsch’s Ronin).

Released on the Panegyric label, Slow Electric’s debut builds on California, Norfolk’s and Flame’s atmospheric ‘torch song’ styles.

From the elegiac opener Towards The Shore to the 5/4 groove of Criminal Caught In The Crime, the quartet combines its collective influences – singer-songwriter, electronica/ambient and European jazz – with gracefully empathetic performances.

The Carl Glover designed digipack comes with a booklet featuring sleeve notes by Tim Bowness.

All Burning Shed pre-order purchasers will be sent a link to a free download EP on the day of the album’s release.”

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