AMN Reviews: Jo Quail – Exsolve (2018; Bandcamp)

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.