Jo Quail – Exsolve

Posted: 27 October 2018 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , ,

2nd November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Not so long ago, I began a review by saying I felt sorry for Jo Quail. That was no slight on her musical output, but an observation that as incredible performer, it seemed wrong that she should be put on so early that her set was a third of the way through before the doors even opened. On listening to Exsolve, my awe of her musicianship is greater than ever, which only renders the injustice worse. To get the point: this is an incredible album, a triumph of musicianship and vision in tandem to create something not only greater than the sum of the parts, but beyond imagination.

The accompanying press release informs us that Exsolve is comprised of three tracks, with each one being broken down in to sections and movements across 45 minutes. Mastered by James Griffiths, himself a film composer, there is, the blurb notes, an almost symphonic quality to the album. This is true, but there is so, so much more, much of which defies conventional description: it speaks not to the domain of words, but the psyche.

The bald facts are that Jo Quail plays cello, and does so through a raft of effects to create sounds a million light years removed from the cello, looping bangs on the mic to create thunderous percussion and conjuring eerie moans and grating tempests of sound. The result is pretty heavy, not to mention intense.

Eight minutes into ‘Forge of Two Forms’, Quail is conjuring blistering interweaving prog riffs against a swirling backdrop of noise and thumping beats. Epic doesn’t come close. It sounds like a full band pushing into new realms of enormity, and with a blistering distorted picked motif that sounds like a crisply-executed lead guitar line, it’s easy to forget just how this music is made. Twelve minutes in, it’s tapered down to nothing and actually sounds like subdued, low-tempo orchestral dronings, creeping atmospherics and melancholy. The transitions are seamless, invisible, but definite as the extended soundworks transition between segments.

‘Mandrel Cantus’ sends sonar echoes across low, slow ripples of mellow cadences, and somehow builds into a monumental emulation of a guitar solo of monumental proportions. How did this happen? From whence did this immense sound emerge?

Everything coalesces on the third and final composition, ‘Causleens Wheel’ which begins delicately, builds to a rolling, roiling, sustained crescendo. It’s a multi-faceted composition, tonally rich and also moving, not just by force but by expression.

Powerful, graceful, compelling and dramatic, Exsolve is a remarkable album of rare quality.

AA

Jo Quail - Exsolve

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Comments
  1. […] acclaimed composer and virtuoso cellist Jo Quail, who released new album Exsolve last week has unveiled her new music video for track ‘Mandrel Cantus’. Jo […]

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