Bill Laurance The Untold Orchestra (April 26, 2024)

Release: April 26, 2024

Bloom, the ACT debut of pianist and composer Bill Laurance as leader, marks the transition from the smallest possible form of musical interaction to a large scale, broadband format.

Following the internationally acclaimed ACT release Where You Wish You Were in duo with multi-instrumentalist and Snarky Puppy bandmate Michael League, Laurance now teams up with Manchester-based 18-piece string orchestra The Untold Orchestra and creates a work of convincingly epic proportions. Combining Bill Laurance’s classical sensibilities with jazz, pop grooves, and powerful orchestral synchronicity, Bloom runs the gamut of emotions and moods. 

“The starting point of my musical career is my classical piano training” says Laurance “and this album is certainly the most classic sounding one I’ve ever made.” 

Bill Laurance, Bloom

The eponymous opening track of the album impressively demonstrates how organically and naturally Laurance manages the balancing act between an orchestral sound, the accessibility and groove of pop music and the freedom of jazz: a series of dark, warm string chords introduces a sense of spaciousness and sonic depth. Soon after, an intense rhythm develops, simultaneously light and tightly grooving. A crystalline piano melody develops over everything, leading into an imaginative, hypnotically intensifying improvisation. 

The earliest idea for Bloom was to create music of strong rhythmic intensity, achieved without drums or percussion and in a more classical setting. 

And after a period of experimenting with the dynamics of a string section to drive the pulse, Laurance got to work composing from his London studio base. The Untold Orchestra proves to be the perfect partner in this endeavour: The ensemble, which was only founded in 2019, focuses on collaborations with musicians from a wide variety of genres. And on Bloom, it performs with the tightness and sonic density of modern pop music and the sensitivity and subtlety of classical musicians in equal measure. Together with this extraordinary ensemble and in arrangements by Joshua Poole, Bill Laurance’s com-positions evoke associations with Italian Baroque, Vivaldi, Shostakovich and Philip Glass. 

Conceptually, Laurance says the record was largely inspired by his child’s capacity to imagine and create other worlds: 

“Every decision we act upon can be traced back to our capacity to imagine, and the limits of what we can achieve are restricted only by our ability to dream, as such. My child’s ability to pull back the curtain of reality and create a fantasy world ignited possibilities of my own, and with Bloom I seek to transport the listener to those places, inspired throughout by the power of the natural world and our ever-growing dependence on it.” 

Featuring his widely lauded improvisational skills, Laurance perfects the balance of straddling virtuosity without becoming self indulgent. 

His playing transcends mere technical mastery on the piano, instead weaving these techniques into something that captivates the listener, no matter what music they usually feel at home with. It respects the full instrumentation of his compositions, creating breathing space for each musician to be heard and understood.

And so, Bloom ties in with its predecessor album Where You Wish You Were, albeit with completely different means: With its vocal and narrative quality, this music creates spaces and dream worlds in which listeners can lose themselves with joy.

Line up

Bill Laurence | piano, fender rhodes mk8, osmose expressive, prophet 6

The Untold Orchestra conducted by Rory Storm
Violin: Simmy Singh, Katie Foster, Cleo Annandale, Mateus Dandalo, Didier Osindero, Helena Logah, Eleanor Shute, Chloe Hayward
Viola: Rosamund Hawkins, Sophia Dignam, Nadia Eskandari, Emily Davies
Cello: Polly Virr, Awen Blandford, Reyan Murtadha, Lucy McLuckie
Double bass: Marcus Vinicius, Alice Phelps 

Track Listing

Bloom
Before the Sun
All at Once
Right Where We Are
Strange Love
Shots
Above All
Lyra
The Right Time