OTW #506: Typesun

In the company of a subtle orchestrator...
Typesun by Neil Bedford

Our first experience of Typesun is Under The Westway in Notting Hill.

In the centre of a concave crowd sits a band of seven. At least, it starts with seven. New vocalists appear and disappear into crowd. A trumpeter hits the bar and returns for a freestyle solo. A two-piece string section shuffles from behind a curtain and dive, bows first, into an instrumental hip-hop number.

All the while, two drummers hold the rear. One is particularly animated, pelting his canvas like a tribesman, whilst darting his eyes and ears through the invisible notes as they float into the air. That’s Luke Harney, the subtle orchestrator, and he’s Typesun.

It’s no surprise his shows are like this. This is a man that can entertainingly derail an interview by going off on a 10-minute tangent about Karlheinz Stockhausen, Duke Ellington and “how super clean Art Blakey’s intros were”. His love for music is encyclopaedic, and stems from a childhood diet of Igor Stravinsky, Michael Tippett and the rest, all imparted by his father.

Luke’s method of creating music is unique, as he soon explains. “I want to have it painted in my imagination before I begin. Who is it for? Where is it going to be played? What are the textures, qualities and meanings? Otherwise, I get lost in worlds. Sometimes I draw a picture of it, sometimes I write it all down in a poem, a list or just keywords.”

Of the tracks to surface, ‘Last Home’ is a Nicolas Jaar-like jazz builder culminating in an autumnal trumpet solo. And then there’s his breakthrough track, ‘The PL’. Some fragile crooning from frequent collaborator Romaine Smith completes a pure and addictive beat/chord partnership. It was enough for BBC Radio 1 to dip its candy-grabbing claw into the underbelly and pluck this one out for daytime mass exposure.

The creation of the album has been somewhat of a ‘throwing shit against a wall’ experiment. The walls, in this case, were Luke’s close friends. He explains: “There was Hundred Strong, Forsaken, and Adam who runs Soul Motive. I gave the same 60 tracks to them all. They went through and picked up two completely different sets! Through the tracks that Ben (Hundred Strong) picked, there was a theme. It clicked. I can’t put my finger on what it is… but that batch of material became the album.”

With the album drawing interest from Gilles Peterson, PIAS and many more, it’s a matter of time before this musical monolith drops a game-changing album.

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Where: Bristol, UK

What: Multi-instrumental mastermind mentalist

Get 3 songs: ‘The PL’, ‘Last Home’, ‘Sad Songs’

Unique Fact: Luke thought ‘The PL’ would be a “stupid B-side that nobody would ever like”.

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Words: Joe Zadeh

Photo: Neil Bedford

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