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Brink: Utility Music

Brink: Utility Music

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Julian Brink is a South African composer. Born in Johannesburg in 1989, he first picked up his mother’s guitar at the age of ten and grew up playing in rock bands. He discovered a love of contemporary classical music through the films of Paolo Sorrentino and Paul Thomas Anderson. Hearing Jonny Greenwood's score for There Will be Blood, in particular, was what led him to pursue composition. Although he didn’t learn to read music until he was 19, while studying guitar at undergraduate level, he went on to complete a master's degree in film scoring through Berklee College of Music and relocated to California in 2015. Brink works in film music and lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Maddie Hasson.

In collaboration with eminent classical label Sono Luminus, Utility Music is Brink's first standalone release. Originally composed in 2019 as a score for an abandoned film project, the music was arranged for piano, harp and string trio. It was later repurposed, reorchestrated and combined with a few older pieces into what is its current form. The album features performances by several distinguished musicians, with the heart of the music being the string trio of Moldovan violin virtuoso Dan-Iulian Drutac; Nick Revel, violist of the Grammy Nominated PUBLIQuartet; and Joe Zeitlin who was the lead cellist on Mica Levi’s Oscar-nominated score for Pablo Lorraín’s Jackie.


  • Colombo / Green Fingers
  • Miniatures
  • Simple Trio No. 1
  • Eventually Lapse
  • Albatross
  • At Night
  • Eastwood No. 4
  • Simple Trio No. 2
  • Aura for M
  • Baptism in the Field
  • Pattern Shells


For his first standalone release, Julian Brink has repurposed and re-orchestrated an incomplete score for an unfinished film. The 11 short, delectable tracks ‘toss boundaries’, as the trombonist provocateur Juliane Gralle observes. Taken together, it feels like there might still be a movie in there, somewhere.

‘Miniatures’ has the feel of a haunted, southern Viennese waltz surrounded in fog, its central beauty emerging serenely through the mist accompanied by drops of ringing pizzicatos. ‘At Night’ features cellist Joe Zeitlin creating other-worldly shadings of tone and colour then lifting them gently from the musical score. The two ‘Simple Trio’ tracks, which offer a vade mecum of ‘uncomplicated transitions between notes to make the samples sound more realistic’, feature the trio of Zeitlin, violinist Dan-Iulian Druțac and viola player Nick Revel of PUBLIQuartet, which Brink describes as ‘the heart of the album. I try to forget that they haven’t all met each other and aren’t playing together in the same room.’

‘Albatross’ channels John Cage and Morton Feldman with mesmerisingly deceptive, irregular beats, wonderfully quiet. The last track, ‘Pattern Shells’, influenced by Villa-Lobos, is a spontaneous splurge of brass and tropical birds.

-- Gramophone

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Sono Luminus
    • UPC/Barcode: 053479702722
    • Item Number: SLE-70027