MJ Cole Selects His Top 10 Neo-Classical Tunes

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Feb 19, 2020
MJ Cole
MJ Cole is delving into his classical roots for his latest project. He’s also lined up remixes by Shantie Celeste, Max Cooper and more. Check those out here, and dig into a neo-classical playlist by MJ below.

I was born into classical music. My musical vocabulary started to form when I first started playing instruments at a very early age. I later discovered dance music. It was new and undefined, immediate and fast-paced, and impossible to pin down.

In contrast, the classical music I’d grown up on stayed still. It felt like there was no room for growth. I was wrong. As my career has progressed, I’ve become increasingly interested in sounds that hark back to the classical era, but which are new, exciting, and groundbreaking. The music I’m releasing this year joins the dots between classical and club, and this selection is a culmination of my influences — a “vibe bank” of sounds, textures, feelings, and colours featuring artists like Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds, and Hans Zimmer. All of these have artists have been influences on my new project which is coming out this year.

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Nils Frahm – My Friend the Forest
Nils is a don. This track is raw, unadulterated solo piano at its best. Full of character, piano noise, rustles, and finger taps. This is a living breathing instrument. Sensitively played, it paints a beautiful picture. I’m in love with the ending — what a capitulation.
Michael Price – Sweet Joy
I’m not usually a fan of classical singing, but this piece is exquisite. It’s beautifully emotive. The strings and voice soar above, bouncing from cloud to cloud. It’s music for the skies, for the soul. The song is inspired by the joy of bringing a new life into the world — Michael’s daughter. Wonderful.
Hans Zimmer – Sorrow
A small slice of atmospheric magic from Hans Zimmer, this tune is taken from the Gladiator soundtrack. It creeps in from a solitary drone and haunting eastern vocal. The strings swell and crescendo. I love the space this music creates — ethereal and open, yet dark and brooding. It’s an excellent blend of electronics and real-world instruments. Hans is the don when it comes to scoring.
Aphex Twin – Avril 14th
Aphex Twin is such a talented human. His skills extend to solo piano amongst everything else. It’s a rickety piano, but you feel its character. There’s a masterful sense of melody in this track. It contains a happiness and a sense of optimism that beams through and bathes the soul. The most beautiful music is often the simplest. I can feel the French countryside in this.