Since stepping out as a solo artist in 2018 Neil Cowley has established himself as an esteemed pianist, composer and producer, collaborating with artists like Maribou State and Jacana People, releasing a number of successful EPs, and putting out his acclaimed debut solo album Hall of Mirrors, with its follow up album, Battery Life, out now.
Since disbanding his eponymous trio and becoming a solo artist in 2018, Cowley has introduced elements of ambient, electronic and neoclassical music into his sound. His first release in this new guise, 2019’s Spacebound Tapes EP, comprising Neil Cowley Trio songs remixed by Throwing Snow, Rival Consoles, Christian Loffler and Vessels, gave an early indication of Cowley’s new direction into more electronic realms. In the same year Cowley co-wrote a track on Maribou State’s album Kingdoms in Colour, a beatific club track underlining his curiosity in the club. “I’ve always had an umbilical connection to the dancefloor,” Cowley says. “As well as wanting to make the heart flutter, I’m always tempted to make the head nod too!”
2019 saw the release of Grains & Motes, a collaboration with the Berlin-based electronic composer Ben Lukas Boysen that the Guardian described as “slow-motion hymns, working within deliberately constricted melodic phrases but always wringing out a quiet grandeur and a beautiful sadness.” Then came Beat Infinitum, an EP of experimental keys and production featuring a guest vocal from Holly Walker.
In 2020 Cowley released parts one, two and three in an EP series entitled Building Blocks, followed by two further singles and a remix of Holly Walker’s Straight Line. Then in 2021 came Hall of Mirrors, Cowley’s magnum opus and the truest realisation yet of his unending love affair with the piano. Recorded in Berlin, the album featured piano arrangements filtered through a prism of production tricks, with support from Clash, Mojo and Uncut plus radio plays from Benji B, Tom Ravenscroft and Gideon Coe. Later that year Hall of Mirrors (Reflected) collected remixes of the album by producers such as Kate Simko, Seb Wildblood and Otzeki.
Cowley dropped two more editions of the Building Blocks series in 2022, as well as an EP with Jacana People released under the name Myna Cycles.
In March 2023, Cowley released Battery Life, a work of carefully treated keys and occasional beats, guided by decades of piano playing and an enduring affinity with rhythm. “There’s this underpinning of acoustic piano at the centre, because that always represents the human in everything I do” he says, “but for each track I try and create an orchestral cloud around me, an electronic pallet of emotions that the piano longs to express”.
Partner album Fragmented Recall was released in September 2023, containing audio references to the originals, but consisting of entirely new compositions, from the viewpoint of time passed, forgotten details and adjusted perspectives, with Battery (Live) following shortly after in October 2023, a collection of live versions taken from Cowley’s European Tour in Spring 2023.