Until I Set Him Free | James Batty.jpg
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Until I Set Him Free | James Batty

“Until I Set Him Free” is the first solo piano album from London-based composer and pianist James Batty. In these emotionally charged pieces, James modified the conventional tuning of the piano’s 88 notes to present an entirely new musical language. His sensitive performances of these 11 original compositions coax listeners into a surreal sonic landscape where familiar tones are refashioned to form something fresh and new.

The album was inspired by the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo, whose famous ‘David’ statue was the result of the sculptor glimpsing a vision of an angel in the marble and carving until he “set him free”. In James’s words: “For me, the creative process is a lot about listening and asking questions. Whether it’s a wisp of a melody or the bare bones of a chord progression, I try to set the ideas free and allow them to morph into something whole. I don’t like to force the music.”

To develop the tuning system, James collaborated with piano technician Finlay Fraser. Following a creative retreat in Poznań, Poland, where he sketched out his ideas, James returned to London and worked with an upright piano to explore the intricacies of its resonance and craft the final pieces. The album was recorded and produced by Haydn Bendall, former chief engineer at Abbey Road Studios who also began his career as a Steinway piano tuner: “When I first met James, I became fascinated with his project. The music is so unusual, interesting and beautiful. I’m thrilled to have been involved in this great album.”

Credits

Composed and performed by James Batty

Produced, recorded and mixed by Haydn Bendall

Piano tuner and technician: Finlay Fraser

Apple Digital Mastering by Diana Gorovaya at Saturday Mastering, Moscow, Russia

Piano: Yamaha G3 

Recorded at Chatsworth Baptist Church, West Norwood, London, UK

Inside photo: Jessica Hu

Vinyl and CD artwork: BeatArt

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