MJ Cole shifts direction with classical record, ‘MJ Cole Presents Madrugada’

On his first album in seventeen years, MJ Cole – one of UK garage’s first true stars – demonstrates a bold move away from dance music. Inspired by his early classical roots, MJ Cole Presents Madrugada is a record which “has always been brewing in the background” of Cole’s star-studded and extensive career. 

Released at the start of April on Decca Records, Presents Madrugada takes its name from the Spanish word for the early hours before sunrise. Accompanied by a short film directed by Henry Dean, which captures the “isolation, integration and rebellion” of madrugada, this piano-led LP is truly an exemplary piece of work from Cole.

Serving as an introduction to an intricate and heartfelt expression of instrumental experimentation, the album begins with the gentle and mellow ‘A Visit To Lolita’. From the offset, it’s obvious that the music ahead is a far cry from Cole’s 2000 debut record, Sincere. As the album progresses, the acclaimed producer ushers in London violinist and string arranger Tobie Tripp on ‘Cathedral’, in addition to a 14-piece orchestra on later tracks.

Speaking about Presents Madrugada, Cole said: “I really feel like a new artist. This isn’t just me sitting down at the piano and writing something nice and ambient, I’m coming at it as a hardcore manipulator of sounds. You can hear my breath, you can hear the pedal, you can hear the piano as a living instrument.”

Perhaps what makes the LP so special is the authenticity behind every chord. It plays as a real defining moment in Cole’s career, proving a certain versatility that transcends his valued contributions to the UK garage scene. 

Each track instils a sort of peace, and evokes the same emotion which was lovingly poured into the album’s production. The penultimate song ‘Dizzy New Heights’ represents a teetering climax with beautiful orchestral infusion, before effortlessly leading into ‘Resolution’, which concludes the album with a subdued, piano-led melody. The sun has risen.

If you’d like to find out more about MJ Cole you can follow him via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. His album, MJ Cole Presents Madrugada is now available to stream on Spotify.

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Image courtesy of Trench.