Julia Kent Julia KentGreen & Grey
She was in Antony’s Johnsons and the band Rasputina, pioneers of the abuse –rather than use– of the cello in an indie context, had it not been for Rachel’s. Now she’s on her own, and for the second time she shows, after the release of “Delay” in 2007, that she doesn’t need anyone to make an impact and that those who wish to add some classical and desolate sound to their songs urgently need to get their hands on some strings. Julia Kent turns the violoncello into a magical instrument, breathtaking, and she does it seemingly effortlessly and without transgressing the rules of use that have been set centuries ago; it’s all talent and instinct.
Her music is cinematic at times, and impressionist always. The Canadian based in New York parts from sources so well-known –baroque, the English minimalists– that their scores run the risk of becoming cliché, like the stuff you’ve heard a thousand times on the records by Michael Nyman ( “Drowning By Numbers”, especially, although that soundtrack for Peter Greenaway was particularly inspired on Mozart), Gavin Bryars and Max Richter, and suggested in the infinite repeats of Bach’s suites. To all that, Julia Kent adds modern procedures that are easy to record in a home studio, like field recordings, loops and layers of cello, in order to achieve, at the same time, an effect of glissando and pizzicatto that makes the music flow gently and happily. At times, “Green & Grey” sounds like the bright version of Hildur Gudnadóttir’s gloomy “Without Sinking” (Type, 2009).
The really surprising thing about this collection of songs that are like looking at the garden through your window after the sun has appeared on a rainy day is how she achieves so much with so little. Julia Kent is not a virtuoso with incredible fingering, nor is she an innovator on the cello –the electronica is discreet and hardly interferes– her singing is like that in many melancholic, tear-jerking art-house films (returning to Nyman, it’s also easy to find the trace that leads to his soundtracks, especially “The Claim” and “Wonderland”, for Michael Winterbottom). However, she does it all perfectly: the pieces –my favourites being “Overlook”, “The Toll”, the ominous “Wake Low”, the deep Bach trace on “Acquario”– are emotive without tricks, they light up the place with lukewarm light, they can be listened to in the background without interrupting and, when you get close to them, you discover a virginal purity which becomes more notorious and addictive every time you listen to them. Without it being a masterpiece, it’s one of those records you return to over and over again, without thinking about it, because your hands, guided by pure emotion, take you there instinctively, only to leave you trapped, like a common fly in a spider’s web. Javier Blánquez
Julia Kent - A Spire