Ryan Vail is a musician and composer with vision and ideas. The Derry-born artist draws his inspiration from the worlds of electronic and modern classical music, bringing them together with unique instrumentation and an emphasis on the immediacy of live performance above all. So far he has released three EPs on Belfast label Champion Sound and a collaborative album with singer-songwriter Ciaran Lavery – 'Sea Legs' was released on Quiet Arch and nominated for the 2015 Northern Ireland Music Prize alongside eventual winner SOAK, Duke Special and Tim Wheeler of Ash. In 2014 he composed the soundtrack for a full-length BBC2 documentary entitled The Longest Night', part of the BBC's True North series. The following year, he composed a solo piano piece for World Piano Day, which was chosen for composer Nils Frahm’s Piano Day playlist on Soundcloud. Ryan has had radio play or performed live sessions with Zane Lowe, Annie Mac, Tom Ravenscroft, Tom Robinson, Phil Taggart and Other Voices, and he has performed alongside many international live acts, including Nils Frahm, Jamie xx, Jon Hopkins, Tycho, Todd Terje, Luke Vibert and Orbital. Now he's ready to release his debut solo album – and it's 89 years in the making. It's the story of a piano that was made in England in 1927, shipped to Derry in Northern Ireland, cherished by Ryan's wife's family and restored for use on a stunning debut album, where the warm, well-loved character of the instrument takes centre stage. That's not to say that Vail has completely left behind his signature sound of vintage synthesisers, tense electronic beats and his own hushed vocals, but in recent years he has developed a passionate interest in artists that blur the lines between electronic music and modern classical – the likes of Nils Frahm, Jon Hopkins and Max Richter. With this old piano, he found a new muse that brought him closer to that world while allowing him to remain true to himself. The piano's story is brought to life in a number of ways. There are haunting instrumentals, such as the opening 1927, which also features the violin of Belfast musician Rachael Boyd, and the delicate closer My Mechanical Insides. There is poetry written and read from the piano's own perspective by Seattle poet and visual artist Hexxr – "Your hands seduce me easily," it suggests, early in the album. The chiming synth arpeggios, surging basslines and steady beats on Wounds and Never recall producers like Jon Hopkins and Matthew Dear, while Derry singer Eoin O'Callaghan (aka Best Boy Grip) turns in a jaw-dropping performance on the track Under The White Wash, his voice layered upon itself to create a stunning choral effect. Ryan's wife Katie plays flute on the track Faces and sings on Mirrors and, significantly, there's a recording of a rousing speech by her uncle, the late Joe Cosgrove, a prominent doctor and peace campaigner in Derry, and the original owner of the piano. In using all of these different collaborators and sample sources, and combining them with his own acoustic and electronic compositions and recordings – always recorded live in as few takes as possible – Ryan Vail has achieved something very special, telling a story through his music. For Every Silence is an innovative, moving and beautiful piece of work by a hugely talented artist.
- Ryan Vail + Monumental Men
- Kantine am Berghain