My introduction to UK-based cellist Jo Quail was on her recent collaboration with Eraldo Bernocchi and FM Einheit. Here, she teams up with two electric guitarists and a vocalist on three duets.
Quail is anything but a conventional performer or composer. She overdubs and processes her cello tracks, combining heavy riffing, sweeping waves, and low drones with occasional melodic aspects. Her style is cinematic, perhaps gothic, and seems to draw equally from classical, dark ambient, and atmospheric metal influences. She combines these elements with suitably dramatic percussion.
On Forge – Of Two Forms this results in an aggressively driven piece for the first two-thirds of its 17 minutes. Guitarist Dan Capp provides appropriately-timed power chords and riffing. On Mandrel Cantus, Quail is joined by guitarist Nik Sampson. He fills a similar role as Capp, but also offers a more rhythmic approach that combines well with Quail’s heavy musings and disjointed percussion. Causleen’s Wheel is a different animal, with Lucie Dehli on whispered vocals. Quail’s playing features fewer overdubs, but for the most part is haunting and melancholic. Toward the end of the track, she runs her cello through distortion effects to produce heavy chording and walls of sound. Here is where Dehli also switches styles – to urgent chanting and desperate wordless vocals.
On Exsolve, Quail gives us 45 minutes of grim and ominous soundscapes, full of dark colors and emotions. Highly recommended.
Acclaimed pianist Gabriel Zucker is joined by trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, saxophonist Eric Trudel, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey on this recently-released effort. Originally written in 2014-15, Weighting was played live in that time frame, but this is its first recording. Unlike much of the creative jazz discussed in these pages, Zucker’s compositions are clearly pre-determined and improv plays a relatively minor role in the complex and dynamic themes herein. Indeed, Weighting could be viewed as an energetic modern classical piece performed by a jazz quartet given a little room for extemporization.
Would It Come Back to You leads off the album with an exploratory duet between O’Farrill and Trudel. Just beyond the half-way point, Zucker and Sorey join in for a dramatic flourish and then the main theme begins. Zucker’s compositions, as well as his complimentary and percussive piano themes, makes the group sound as if there are more than just four voices. As one would expect, Sorey goes well beyond holding down a rhythm and adds dense offerings of his own.
Another representative track, The Stream of New York / And Art, of Course features Zucker on a staccato piano lead, which morphs into a number of related, overlapping themes and motifs worked through by his bandmates. Zucker continues leading the group into a noisy crescendo. Not all of the pieces are so aggressive or angular, but even those that take it down a few notches still exhibit Zucker’s compelling techniques.
While Weighting is serious music, it also exhibits a sense of urgency and joy despite all of the polyphony. As a result, the album has no shortage of appeal. This one should be on everybody’s best of 2018 list.
It’s that time again. We gather best-of-2018 lists from around the web and provide links here. Sure, we haven’t reached the end of the year yet, but some intrepid individuals just cannot be held back. The AMN Best of 2018 is coming in early January. Stay tuned…
Aquarium Drunkard’s 2018 year in review
The New York Times’ best jazz
A Closer Listen’s top ten field recordings of 2018
A Closer Listen’s top ten experimental recordings of 2018
2018 Best of Lists from Around the Web: Part I
2018 Best of Lists from Around the Web: Part II