When Matthew Halsall released Salute to the Sun in November 2020, his first new album in five years, he shared the first fruits from an especially fertile period of writing and recording, which also gave birth to the music released here as The Temple Within.
The recording sessions featured Halsall's then brand new band of hand-picked local musicians, brought together through weekly rehearsals and a monthly residency at Yes in Manchester, they forged an immersive, communal sound, drawing on spiritual jazz, the heritage of British jazz and progressive world music and electronica influences. Inspired by these monthly sessions, together, they created a body of music that is rooted in Northern England but draws on global inspirations. For Halsall the music on The Temple Within perfectly captures the spirit of those sessions.
"I felt really excited by the connection that we were building, both together as a band, but also with the local community. People of all ages and types come to our monthly sessions and the energy of being able to write and rehearse and then perform new music each month is really uplifting. And this music is a perfect case in point. To me it really feels like a perfect pocket of music, a perfect moment. We thought about expanding it to an album, but in the end if just feels right as it is, and we wanted to share that energy of that moment with our wider community, not just people at our shows, but our fans and listeners around the world."
The title track, and first single 'The Temple Within' is a darker, heavier tune than anything on Salute to the Sun and has become a firm part of the band's live shows. The enigmatic title is taken from a quote by Alice Coltrane and expands on the idea that your spiritual space is within yourself and not the bricks and mortar of a church or monastery or Ashram. The hard-grooving Earth Fire features beautiful flute work from Matt Cliffe and inspired drums from Alan Taylor, and offers a emotional response to the horrendous bush fires that ravaged Australia. The Eleventh Hour is another dark-toned "banger" with a late-night vibe and with its incessant groove and fiery solos is another track to have found a regular place in the band's sets. Finally, A Japanese Garden in Ethiopia takes it unique flavour from both musical cultures and is one of Halsall's most beautiful wistful compositions.
The Temple Within features Matthew Halsall trumpet and electronics, Matt Cliffe flute & saxophone, Maddie Herbert harp, Liviu Gheorghe piano, Gavin Barras, bass, Alan Taylor drums and Jack McCarthy percussion.
The Temple Within is produced by Matthew Halsall and Daniel Halsall, recorded by Matthew Halsall, mixed by Greg Freeman, mastered by Peter Beckmann of Technology Works and vinyl cut by Norman Nitzsche at Calyx.
The distinctive artwork is by Ian Anderson of The Designers Republic.