James McVinnie has a good claim to being one of contemporary classical music’s pre-eminent organists. He’s worked with artists from across the musical spectrum - Philip Glass and Richard Reed Parry but also Nico Muhly, Hildur Guðnadóttir and Oneohtrix Point Never - and has released records on Naxos and Bedroom Community.
Tom Jenkinson is an equally impressive figure. You’ll likely know him best as Squarepusher, or perhaps through his work leading the band Shobaleader One, but Jenkinson also has some serious chops as an arranger and composer - he’s had his orchestral works performed at venues like London’s Royal Festival Hall and collaborated with Olivia Coleman for the CBeebies ‘wind-down’ ambient broadcast Daydreams.
Back in 2016 McVinnie and Jenkinson got together to create a piece called The Secret Life Of Organs. With Jenkinson writing the music and McVinnie performing, the show debuted at the Royal Festival Hall and subsequently toured the UK. Now The Secret Life Of Organs has been revised into an LP entitled All Night Chroma.
Working again with the Royal Festival Hall’s 1954 Harrison & Harrison organ, these recordings take full advantage of the huge array of tones that the instrument has to offer. Drones, trilling melodies, reedy flutes and choppy chordal motifs are just some of the sounds on offer here. Tracks like ‘Flutes’ recall harmonious pieces by Louis Vierne or Charles-Marie Widor while more challenging entries such as ‘Bombardes & Cymbel’ turn towards 20th Century leaders like Olivier Messiaen. Elsewhere on All Night Chroma the slowly-shifting sands of ‘Voix Celestes’ nods to contemporary voices like Sarah Davachi.
On All Night Chroma the union of James McVinnie and Tom Jenkinson (Squarepusher/Shobaleader One) produces a set of ambitious contemporary organ works.