The Howling: Meet Tilman Robinson

Welcome to The Howling, a new series where we showcase and introduce upcoming or lesser known artists who we think you should know about. This week we’re looking at Melbourne based composer Tilman Robinson, who has just released his sophomore solo album Deer Heart, out now on Hobbledehoy Records.

Tilman Robinson is a name that likely very few of you have heard. It’s a name that doesn’t carry the heavy connotations of larger artists, and it isn’t widely known. But for those who have heard it, it carries strong memories and weighty emotions. Robinson is a special brand of musical artist, one that leaves you thinking well after his music has stopped playing. Amidst the busy backdrop of modern life, Robinson’s music gives you contemplative pause.

Based in Melbourne, Tilman Robinson is a composer of art. Having worked on multiple successful commissions for organisations ranging from the Melbourne International Jazz Festival to APRA AMCOS to Arts Centre Melbourne, Robinson has carved a nice little niche in the Australian music scene. His music is difficult to define and near impossible to sort into one genre. A performance at 2014’s MONA FOMA festival in Hobart proved this to me, where a blend of trombone, piano, laptop and no-input mixer combined into a splendour. He has worked with artists as special and diverse as Dustin Tebbutt, Sigurðsson, and Nico Muhly, as well as being tasked with arranging Sinead O’Connor‘s music for her 2010 Seven Songs to Leave Behind project. But on his latest project, Tilman Robinson is continuing to strike out on his own.

While his initial solo project, The Agony of Knowledge, was commissioned by PBSFM and the MIJF, his latest album is all his. Recorded in part at Greenhouse Studios in Reykjavik, Deer Heart is a moving piece of work. The album artwork depicts a beam of light dividing his head in two, which is an apt representation of the music. Deer Heart can be best described as a mix of modern classical post-rock in the vein of Ólafur Arnalds (especially during his …and They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness phase) and heavier beats à la Ben Frost. The haunting Pareidolia pulls you in with its thumping synths layered over beautiful piano and strings. It’s a remarkable piece of work, and I highly recommend you give it a listen.

Out on South Australian record Hobbledehoy Records, Deer Heart slots just as well into a classical collection as it will into any post-rock library. It’s both intellectual and emotional, and it challenges the listener to inspect themselves. The record is also great ambient music, as it never demands your attention. Instead, it politely asks for your focus. If you give yourself to the music, you’ll find a deep and melancholy album that is subtly introspective and beautiful.

Image: Tilman Robinson/Jackson Eaton