Garreth Broke is a pianist and composer from Wales, based in Frankfurt. After having studied music in Oxford, Broke went on to release several projects with 1631 Recordings and Thesis, additionally to running Upright Editions. His latest project is a collaboration with the German artist Anna Salzmann—with whom he had already collaborated on projects such as Dance, Another Turn and Coping Mechanism. Healing is a twenty-five-minute suite for solo piano that interacts with a series of eleven abstracts paintings from Salzmann. Through this common work—designed to be performed live and accompanying the visual pieces—the artists approach the central themes of healing and creation as a medium to reach it.
The suite opens on a musical glimpse, Intro; a sparse work based on arpeggiated chords that flow into Hiding—the following piece—setting a brief pulse but quickly returning to something more airy when Hidden Agenda (Traces) comes in, and takes a more dramatic turn. With this triptych and similarly to the healing process, it already appears that Broke is trying to achieve musical resolution through investigating musical territories. Similarly to this process of healing, there is a constant moving forward and backward, in one continuous flow of music. Following, Lost (Searching - Reaching) is based on a very delicate yet strong melody that grows through harmonisation and evolves to a light and volatile melody in Heart (Map) - Cracks, suggesting that something different is yet to come. Healing—sounding misleadingly French, with its ternary approach—quickly evolves into something more heavier and in line with the rest of the album. A Greater Freedom—one of my favourite—is airy yet very visual and suggestive. Finally, the last musical illustration of the album, Cave-Mind-Clear brings a sense of lightness and openness, and returns to the idea of vamping for musical exploration; completing the album, yet opening it and questioning the closure of it.
Writing music as a way to escape and heal has been central in Broke’s—and Salzmann’s—career, and it is the central theme of this release. Yes, the music on its own is truly enjoyable and well-written, and performed, but the project really makes fully sense when perceived as a visual and audio diptych. Salzmann’s paintings complete the music just as much as Broke illustrates the art. There are many different contrasting aspects, whether they are musical or philosophical, and this is what makes Healing such a strong collaboration and release.