About this Recording
11018-2 - RILEY, Philip: Pattern of Lands (A)

When Renaissance artist Michelangelo was asked how his magnificent statue of David came into being, he cryptically responded by saying that he just kept chipping away at all the parts that weren't David.

This is a process that Philip Riley knows only too well. For over two decades the Gateshead, England native has been chipping away at his own creative process. His debut album for White Cloud, Visions and Voices, (White Cloud 11012), offered the first glimpse of a master craftsman at work. Now his new release, A Pattern of Lands, demonstrates the further refinement of this creative process.

"For A Pattern of Lands I blended music and voices of many diverse cultures, both modern and ancient, to create an imaginary step from where we stand to anywhere our minds might take us," Philip says.

The sounds in his album are a synthesis of musical textures and patterns, impressions that began for him at an early age.

"As a youngster, I went through quite a series of instruments because I was one of those lucky people that could play almost anything I picked up."

The experience that Riley would later draw on presented itself several years later, in the form of a bizarre musical apprenticeship as a drummer in bands that played in between the bingo sessions in the working mens' clubs of northern England, providing background music for comedians, strippers and performing dogs.

"I had the bug though, so there was nothing I could do about it. You are either completely immersed in music, or you're not, and I loved every moment of it, even being the straight man for the comedians."

The musical form started to take shape when Riley moved to New Zealand with his wife to be Jane in 1977, and he switched from drumming to working with keyboards.

"After several years as a drummer for local bands, I joined a band as a keyboardist. I had one of the first Korg synths at that time. At first it was terrifying, because I was so used to hiding behind my drum kit, staring at the girls, now they could see me as well as I could see them!

"Soon, I wanted to write and perform my own songs. I formed a band expressly for the purpose of performing all our original songs, and Jon Mark was our mentor. He guided and helped us develop our style. Jon worked with us all through the formation of that band, and he got to know my song writing style. He suggested that I might like to make an album for release on his label, White Cloud, and I realised that this was an opportunity for really creative expression."

"Pop and rock music are really quite structured. There are a lot of unwritten rules about what you can and can't do. So it was very challenging when Jon told me that rule one for this kind of music is that there are no rules. It's led me to using my experience in pop and rock drumming, but also to being able to choose ethnic instruments and evocative sounds and making a new hybrid out of a mixture of it all."

The initial fruit of Philip Riley's labours gave birth to the Celtic-tinged Visions and Voices, a remarkable album of charming melodic sound poems, full of lightness, grace and whimsy, that introduced the world to the exquisite wordless vocals of Jayne Elleson.

"But I don't feel I have to restrict myself to just one style like the Celtic feel of 'Visions and Voices'. I am exploring this new found freedom I discovered when I recorded my first album. I think that's why A Pattern of Lands is such a different second album. I want to be able draw on all the influences that have shaped my musical career."

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