New Zealand composer, Levi Patel unveils the first serving of new music since the critically acclaimed, Affinity. The album was the artist’s first solo release with Marigold Music, and was met with love from around the globe on its release in 2017. Today, Patel shares A Shifting Lightness I, out now and available on all digital platforms.
This four track release is the first chapter in a larger body of work, to be released as a triptych throughout 2019. Directed by filmmaker Jonathan Zsofi, Patel has shared sublime visuals for a newly revealed piece titled ‘With wings falling’.
Surrounded by the natural light and panoramic views of rural Matakana, the early sketches of a lengthy project titled A Shifting Lightness took place whilst living alone in Patel’s family home over an 18 month period between 2015-2017. Written in isolation, the flow of his journey exploring light and memory would evolve into subtle melodic ideas, built around the central voice of the piano.
The final recording is enveloped in the wairua of beloved music venue Leigh Sawmill. The space within the well lived walls has been witness to a long life of musical history and tradition. It is an environment wrapped in nostalgia and reflection, matching the thematic undertones of part one.
“Given time, memories become brighter and more beautiful as the bad parts fade. Spending so much time alone allowed me to reflect on my past, which came with a warm nostalgia, but at the same time I knew that my feelings weren’t a reflection of the whole truth,” says Patel of the compositional process.
A Shifting Lightness I opens with ‘Signals silent’, a minimalist beauty that acts as a precursor to the poignant and emotive ‘Her angled beauty’ (cello, violin, viola and double bass was provided by James Bush, Pascal Roggen, Rachel Grimwood, and Eric Scholes throughout the project). A slow building crescendo, ‘With wings falling’ is a continuation of Patel’s delicate string arranging, unfolding effortlessly and building in emotion wherever necessary. A revised version of fan favourite ‘As she passes (nocturne)’ draws a bittersweet conclusion to the first chapter; a warm, fleeting reminder of an old friend cast to time and memory.
All three parts of the triptych were recorded with the detailed attention of STUDIO 509 engineer Jacob Rush, and mixed by Simon Gooding. The project was co-produced by philosopher and musicologist Jeremy Reid. The artwork was created by Edgar Melitao and Corban Koschak, wholy informed and guided by the mood of work and the Matakana environment it originated in.
“The Matakana studio is half underground, so from where I was writing every day, I could only just see through a single window above ground. It was basically all I saw for the 18 months I was there," Patel reflects.
With cathartic musical brews, Patel’s journey took flight in 2014 with his self-released EP Forms, which was closely followed by second EP Of Sleep and Time, the spiritual home to much-loved composition ‘As she passes’ which has received well over 7 million streams across Soundcloud and Spotify worldwide.
In recent years, Patel has composed for multiple international films, including Nils Clauss’ Last Letters (a touching tribute to the victims of the Sewol ferry tragedy). He also co-wrote and featured on fellow kiwi Rhian Sheehan’s recent album, A Quiet Divide. Patel composed the soundtrack for short film It’s Snowing Outside, written and directed by Lucasfilm producer Rayne Roberts, and worked briefly at Skywalker Ranch with a team supervised by André Fenley (Iron Man, Minority Report, Fight Club, Jurassic Park).
“You’d be quick to draw comparisons with Nils Frahm’s early days, but it’s Ólafur Arnalds and Otto A. Totland who’ll be witnessing a similar young prodigy tread in the same, gentle footsteps.” - A Strangely Isolated Place
“deserves a place near every fireside and in every front parlour” - Elsewhere
“A bright new star has flashed its way across the skies in the Southern Hemisphere… the compositions on Affinity will hold their appeal for generations to come.” - Sunday Star Times ★★★★½
“Life-affirming music” - A Closer Listen