Nicholas Vines’s compositional approach is firmly rooted in the technical resources of the Western classical canon, from plainsong and sixteenth-century counterpoint to recent advances in instrumental technique and electroacoustic technology. At the same time, every opportunity is taken to embrace sounds and ideas from an array of popular, experimental, Australian and non-Western traditions. This combination of rigour and pluralism – stemming from the composer’s own heritage, his wide-ranging interests and the communities in which he lives and works – gives rise to music at once vectored and kaleidoscopic. Nostalgia, satire and farce often result from the inherent friction.
At their best, Nicholas Vines’ compositions evoke a sense of naïve idealism at loggerheads - for better or worse - with the realities of the world. Sometimes the music loses itself in innocent physicality or elaborate fantasy, doggedly avoiding the tendrils of cold, hard fact. Often, however, it can’t escape, leading to various states of self-denial, self-mockery, decay and decadence. This on occasion can make the listening experience uncomfortable, even frustrating. Nevertheless, it is hoped through such intellectual and psychological challenge, the music's essential moral and visceral beauty becomes all the more poignant.