Derek Yau’s beautiful, optimistic, elegiac May is a series of piano pieces recorded across the record’s titular month and released in the next. Like many things during lockdown it was created at home, and like many peoples’ experience of days during lockdown – one piece flows into the next with no distinction, no clear beginning or end. Wholly improvised across a series of sessions, in their melodies and rhythms these recordings capture something incredibly immediate and human; still warm to the touch.
A classically trained multi-instrumentalist, Derek Yau is a serial collaborator with a penchant for free and tonal improvisation. Often found behind a cello and in multiple music scenes, projects and collaborations, May represents Derek’s first solo output. His skill as an improviser is in finding spaces and moments to occupy, offering counterpoint or compliment with acute, sensitive intuition. Returning to piano after years practising as a contemporary cellist carries some of this magic onto record, imbuing the music with a rareness and immediacy.
The result is uplifting, calming, at times melancholy, and created in the spirit of a gift. May is an open embrace in times of unrest.
The artwork for May – including photography and hand-drawn micro-animations – was created by our in-house designer / artist Angharad Hengyu Owen.
May can be purchased as a digital release via the Colliding Lines Bandcamp.
“We often look back on a spiritual journey and realize that we’ve changed, even though we’re unable to identify when… Some things are personal, but others are true across the board, including a universal need for encouragement. Over the course of 24 minutes and 22 seconds, Yau does his best to contribute feelings of empathy and peace.” – A Closer Listen
“His music is both relaxing, uplifting and straddles improvisation and structure. ‘May’ flits effortlessly around like a curious wander in a musical forest. Everything feels bright and lush but you are never quite sure what’s around the next corner.” – Higher Plain Music
“A 24-minute performance of multiple improvised vignettes; one touching idea after another.” – The Moderns Blog
Written and performed by Derek Yau
Mastering: Mark West
Artwork: Angharad Hengyu Owen
Words: Wesley Freeman-Smith