AMN Reviews: Julia Kent & Barbara de Dominicis – Parallel 41 (Baskaru)

Canadian cellist Julia Kent and Italian poet/singer Barbara de Dominicis each currently live in great cities that both happen to lie at the same latitude, New York and Naples. Kent has released three solo records, accompanied film, theatre and dance performances, and is one of Antony´s Johnsons. De Dominicis has participated in a wide range of projects with like-minded musicians, poets and visual artists including Leonardo Rosado, Shahzad Ismaily, Ginetta Corelli, Nicolas Bernier, and Australian art collective GIRRL. They travelled together from one country to the other and, mostly in Italy, chose a variety of unlikely locations in which to improvise.

As Kent bends over her cello (which she also loops), de Dominicis often bends over her laptop, manipulating the timbre of her voice and the ambient sounds archived there and occurring in real time – in an abandoned tunnel, a farm house, a fort built to protect Venice. At their best, Kent is solid and sonorous, occasionally searing, while de Dominicis carols, cajoles, switches language and abandons language altogether. “The Naked City” displays the duo at its best – the poet is at her most inventive and the singer her most harmonious, the cellist both soothingly accommodative and determinedly ambitious. Two tracks later, I want to rip my ears off. In context, the mellow “Voiceless Laughter” is almost a pop song and a welcome finale after a challenging trip. Improvised as it is, it is ultimately, as de Demonicis says in the accompanying video, “maybe some you like, some you don´t like”.

Davide Lonardi has crafted a sensitive and very watchable thirty-five minute documentary, interspersing a conversation between the duo with an inspired, humanely-paced collage of images of the cities and their hinterlands, which he is particularly adept at shooting. The CD and DVD set are packaged in an elegant slipcase.

Stephen Fruitman