The Turning Year, Roger Eno’s solo debut album for Deutsche Grammophon, opened a window into the insights of the British composer. His radiant reflections on the changing seasons, released last April, speak of beauty and stillness, sadness and simple pleasures. Now Eno has revisited and expanded this repertoire for a series of three EPs featuring a combination of illuminating reworks, previously unreleased tracks and gems from the album sessions. Collectively entitled The Turning Year · Rarities, the project sees him collaborate with violinist Rosie Toll, members of acclaimed German string ensemble Scoring Berlin and his daughters Cecily and Lotti Eno, as well as presenting many of his own solo works. The first EP, Rarities · Piano, comes out on 9 September 2022, with Rarities · Bells following on 11 November. Rarities · Quartets will be released in spring 2023 alongside a vinyl album featuring all the Rarities material, together with a bonus track.
“Close relatives to The Turning Year, these EPs have given me a reason to release this unheard music, some of which was recorded during the Berlin sessions when the album was laid down, and which includes some personal highlights,” explains Eno.
Rarities · Piano opens with Eno’s solo piano version of “The Turning Year”. As with so much of his music, this track is deeply rooted in the composer’s autobiography. “It owes its continued existence to my younger daughter,” he notes. “For years it was known as ‘Lotti’s Favourite’, as whenever she heard me play it, she’d remark on how much she liked it. The piece has a curious mix of light and darkness, a mix I am constantly striving to work with.”
This first EP presents three previously unreleased tracks, starting with two further solo piano works, “Or So I’ve Read” and “Softly”, which explore shared musical material from strikingly different perspectives. “Still Day” features yearning improvisations from folk-fiddler Rosie Toll, the ambiguities of its title and music embracing both the promise of early morning and the mysterious calm that so often follows daybreak.
All three EPs draw from the fabric of Eno’s life, his family and the landscape and history, country lanes and waterways of his native East Anglia. Rarities · Bells evokes echoes from a distant past and the consolation of quietude. “The area in which I live is blessed with isolated medieval churches, many of which are open to those who wish for silence, such as myself,” says Eno. This second EP couples a grand-piano version of its title track with another that contains the striking duetting voices of his daughters, Cecily and Lotti, first heard together on Roger’s performance for NPR’s Tiny Desk. Cecily is also the creative force behind Roger’s visual material for this and the album project.
The collaborative spirit continues in the third EP, Rarities · Quartets, performed by a quartet of players from the string ensemble Scoring Berlin with whom Eno recorded some of the tracks on The Turning Year. A melancholy atmosphere prevails here, in three reimagined versions of “Slow Motion” and the equally moving “Venerable Dilemma”.
“I cherish the beauty of working with others,” says Roger Eno. “Music to me is an almost symbolic action, involving, as it does, ‘harmony’ – a synonym for love, consensuality and friendship. These EPs contain a great deal of myself and of others.”