Features / Band with ‘unique sound’ heading for the isles

Trio HLK will be in the isles next Saturday.

SHETLAND music fans will be in for a real treat next Saturday, when the acclaimed Trio HLK will be performing a workshop and concert in Mareel, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

The band, comprised of pianist Rich Harrold, drummer Richard Kass and guitarist Ant Law, have been praised for their heavily-improvised, eclectic sound, which fuses a whole spectrum of musical genres from contemporary classical, to jazz and heavy metal.


Greater than the sum of its parts, Trio HLK’s music has garnered considerable critical praise.

Speaking to Shetland News this week, Rich Harrold said that the band will be visiting the isles as part of their current tour, adding that it was a treat “to play such a lovely hall on such a lovely island.”

The band has an impressive musical pedigree, with wildly different backgrounds and styles being merged together to create a truly unique sound, which Rich described as “colourful, exciting, [and] surprising as possible”.


Rich is a pianist from a contemporary classical music background, having studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Yale School of Music in New York.

Ant is a jazz musician at heart, with influences from the rock and metal genres, playing the only electric instrument in the ensemble, his specially-made 8 string guitar. As a drummer, Richard is into ‘extended techniques’, able to play multiple rhythms simultaneously, giving a pseudo-electronica sound to the band.

“There’s lots and lots of influences in the music,” Rich said. “It’s very hard to sum it up, really.”


Trio HLK will be holding a workshop on Saturday 16 June ahead of the concert that evening. Rich said that the workshops were informal, and usually combined musical performance with an explanation of the band’s methods and structures, allowing the audience to get involved with improvising over the music and ask questions.

“[Shetland] has a great reputation for being a community of great musicians,” Rich said, adding that they very much tailor the workshops to the audience and what they are interested in.

The band hope that this insight into their technique and musical process would enhance the enjoyment of the evening concert, letting the audience experience the performance with a greater understanding of the musicianship behind it.

“We don’t want it to turn into a sort of lecture,” he said, unless that was what the audience asked for. “We like to meet people and chat about music.”

The band’s unique sound needs to be heard to be properly understood, with Rich describing the concert as being a meld of all the band’s different styles and influences, partly composed, partly improvised, and entirely distinctive.

Rich said that the trio often take recognisable tunes and ‘play games’ with them, stretching and experimenting with well-known pieces to open them up and change them into something new and different.


While Richard Kass has visited Shetland before (“not for a while”, he said), it will be Trio HLK’s first time in the isles. Rich was “very keen” to get to see some of Shetland, noting that he has been intending to come here for a number of years and never quite managed before.

“Can’t wait to get up there,” Rich said. “I’ve not managed to get over to Shetland, I’m glad it’s on the list… We’ve really enjoyed taking [the music] to a lot of different audiences and playing to as many people as possible.”

Tickets for both events are available from the Shetland Box Office.