Over the past twenty-five years, Michael Brook has forged his own path, fueled in equal parts by scientific curiosity, the thrill of playing guitar, technical prowess, and a fervent interest in music from all over the world. His creative energies and expertise have been tapped over the years by those who recognize Michael as, variously: a record producer; a soundtrack composer; an instrument builder; an inspired collaborator and player; and a solo artist possessed of a unique sensibility.
Michael was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and studied music at York University. In the early 80s he worked as an engineer at Daniel Lanois' studio. He reflects, "From Dan, I got the sense that many things only happen in the moment, as music is being performed or written."
At this time, Michael also met pianist Harold Budd and musical iconoclast Brian Eno. "I used to work a lot with Eno, and I think I learnt quite a bit of my approach to the studio from him...that it's important to stay in touch with a kind of intuitive, emotional sense of direction."
In 1985, Michael's first solo album Hybrid, with contributions from both Eno and Lanois, was released on EG Records to great critical acclaim. That album remains among the groundbreaking works of the mid-1980s.
"In a lot of ways, what I do is more oriented around sound than music, and my work is probably simpler than initial impressions might suggest -- I pay a lot of attention to atmospherics."
His second solo album Cobalt Blue (1992) also featured Eno among its larger cast of musicians; Live at the Aquarium (1993) appeared shortly afterwards, recorded at London Zoo on the occasion of Cobalt Blue's press launch.
Brook has collaborated with a long list of international talent including Pieter Nooten, Mary Margaret O'Hara, The Pogues, Bryan Ferry, Youssou N'Dour, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Cheb Khaled, Indian electric mandolin player U. Srinivas, Armenian duduk flute master Djivan Gasparayan. and the late Tanzanian music master Hukwe Zawose. Some of these collaborations have become Real World classics -- Dream with U. Srinivas (1995), Night Song with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1996), Black Rock with Djivan Gasparyan (1998), and Assembly with Dr. Hukwe Zawose (2002).
"Every time you work with somebody else, you learn something you wish you'd known before. I really don't like working by myself. I get cabin fever!" says Brook.
Another form of collaboration for Brook is film music. In 1992, he composed and performed the acclaimed score for the Academy Award-nominated documentary "The Fires of Kuwait." As his opportunities increased, Michael moved to Los Angeles, his current residence and the site of his studio, La Lavanderia, in the hills above Hollywood.
Following work on the soundtrack to director Michael Mann's 1995 film "Heat," Michael was invited to compose the music for Kevin Spacey's "Albino Alligator," and the score for Paul Schrader's 1998 feature "Affliction."
"When you are working for film you basically have a patron, which is usually the director. They are an audience of one, and sometimes it is easier to please an audience of that size... sometimes..."
As a musician, Michael's electronically-enhanced guitar may be heard on many films, including composer Hans Zimmer's scores for "Black Hawk Down," "Mission Impossible 2," and "The Pledge."
Michael composed the score for the 2006 Al Gore global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," and produced the soundtrack, as well as contributing compositions to the much-lauded traveling exhibition, "Ashes and Snow" (with collaborators such as Lisa Gerrard).