FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Chosen One: Julia Kent

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Creative work–whether it’s making music or writing or performing physically–can sometimes produce its own chronology and in that way seem to escape time.”

—Julia Kent

 Words: Mark Carry

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Last month saw the eagerly awaited return of world-renowned Canadian cellist and composer Julia Kent’s fifth studio album, ‘Temporal’: a deeply transformative journey into our very being that chronicles the fragility of human existence. The emotional world that Kent’s cello-based compositions innately unfolds – akin to the shifting of the earth’s tectonic plates in a natural, hypnotic and gradual rhythmic pulse – unleashes a haven of raw emotion and vivid textures. It is this highly emotive quality of the cellist’s captivating soundscapes – which somehow encapsulates all of life’s fleeting moments in one enthralling, soaring ocean wave – that has been a cherished constant in her storied career to date.

Temporal’ begins with the epic tour-de-force ‘Last Hour Story’; a striking piece centered on a metronomic pulse. But it is the way in which the continually morphing and mutating strings somehow navigate into the hidden depths of one’s heart and mind – constantly changing direction, and forever exploring deeper into the unknown – which conveys a celestial beauty of unknown magnitude. A timelessness is created, for the listener, is taken into the here and now, with the heart pulse as our trusted compass.

The combination of hypnotic electronic pulses and contemplative strings is masterfully employed on the luminescent ‘Imbalance’. Momentous sound worlds of neo-classical, electronic and drone soundscapes are interwoven, overlapped and joined in synergy. The journey is undeniably taking its course: to here knows when.

Experimentation with vocals (bringing to mind kindred spirits of Kelly Moran’s latest Warp full-length or Kara-Lis Coverdale) on the dazzling ‘Conditional Futures‘ creates an utterly transcendent drone-infused-ambient creation. The hidden details are sculpted together into a labyrinth of time, wherein the strings serve the vital link.

The modern-classical splendour of ‘Floating City’ shares the timeless spirit of Hauschka and Olafur Arnalds such is its sublime spell. Heartwarming and enlightening, in equal measure.

An inner dialogue forever occurs deep within the very heart and soul of Kent’s glorious sound worlds. The album’s gripping penultimate track, ‘Through The Window’ encapsulates the empowering nature of the Canadian composer’s immense talents: it is as if our very inner reflection – both the darkness of fears, tension, doubts and the light of love, hope and joy – becomes reflected through the looking-glass. Music that becomes part of you.

‘Temporal’ is out now on The Leaf Label.

https://www.juliakent.com/

http://www.theleaflabel.com/

julia-kent-by-pepe-fotografia_1

Interview with Julia Kent.

 

Congratulations on the stunningly beautiful and transformative latest full length ‘Temporal’. An album title that epitomizes the intense spirit and emotive energy that permeates throughout: reflecting at once the transient nature of life and human existence but also a celebration of life’s ripple flow of fleeting moments. Please discuss the narrative of this latest solo work, Julia and recount your memories of witnessing these hypnotic pieces come to fruition?

Julia Kent: Thanks so much! The album came together over a few years and rather than there being a narrative thread running through the pieces, there is more the idea that they were reflecting on, as you say, the passage of time and the way in which we can sometimes seem to arrest it by creating something that intersects with it. Creative work–whether it’s making music or writing or performing physically–can sometimes produce its own chronology and in that way seem to escape time.

You have collaborated quite often in the field of dance and I was very interested to discover many of these pieces were born from your work in the world of dance/theatre. Please discuss the relationship between sound and movement and how your subconscious responds to these cues, so to speak? 

JK: I love working with dance because there’s a really specific and amazing energy that happens with dancers on a stage. What they do is so physical, obviously, but also transcends physicality. Dance turns our existence, as bodies negotiating our way through the constraints of gravity and the construct of chronology, into art.

‘Last Hour Story’ forms a significant foundation to ‘Temporal’s captivating sound world. The gorgeous textures of strings and subtle electronics creates this otherworldly, far-reaching stratosphere. I’m curious as to the song title and how this epic piece develops gradually over time. I can imagine the space – be it your headspace or indeed this ‘other’ space the music brings you deep inside – is very much apparent during the making and construction of ‘Last Hour Story’?

JK: “Last Hour Story” was originally developed to accompany a theatre piece called “Il Tempo Scolpito,” which of course references Tarkovsky’s autobiography, and that was my original working title for it, until I realized I just couldn’t presume to use that title. The whole piece unfolds over an unchanging metronomic beat, and I used it as an opportunity to explore how musical ideas can develop over something that remains unchanged and, in a way, inexorable. “Last Hour Story,” as a title, came from the idea of how time can compress or dilate, depending on how we’re experiencing it: the concept of how it changes depending on our perspective, like the way, allegedly, at the end of our life we could potentially have a bird’s-eye view of it.

Can you discuss the processes and techniques utilized on ‘Temporal’ and indeed if any new avenues were navigated on this latest exploration? As a composer, do you find you approach – in essence – has remained a constant throughout your storied career? 

JK: I think I do make music in the same way always: for me it really is about communicating emotion. For “Temporal,” because much of the music was created in response to external concepts, either from choreography or from text, I think perhaps it might have ended up being less interior than some of my other records. The compositional process definitely had one more step than some of my other music in terms of the pieces developing in a really immediate way in rehearsal or in response to concepts and then being refined over time as it became clear that this music could come together to be an album.

‘Conditional Futures’ conveys your masterful use of vocal textures and how these textures are interwoven with the cello instrumentation unleashes a fragile beauty amidst a dark undercurrent. Can you outline any challenges posed by adding these vocal treatments to your music? I wonder how much time goes into the production of ‘Temporal’, after which the tracks are put to tape?

JK: I’m always interested in processing organic textures and combining them with electronic textures in a way that blurs the boundaries between both, so that it’s hard to tell where one leaves off and the other begins. I think in “Temporal” I’ve done that more than in my other records. I did a lot of processing of the cello sound and the “found” voices that I used to turn them into textures. It makes them almost into ghosts of what they are. That’s something also, that seems inherent to looping. Someone in a recent interview referenced the concept of “hauntology” with reference to looping, which I thought was so interesting. It seems relevant in terms of the way repetition can create a phantom existence.

I’m in awe of the inner dialogue that forever occurs deep within the heart and soul of your sonic explorations. I feel ‘Through The Window’ encapsulates the deeply empowering nature of your cello based compositions. Can you discuss the act of layering pieces of strings and indeed how you – in effect – respond to musical ideas and build a piece from a starting idea to its finished, gleaming whole?

JK: That is a lovely way to describe the end result–thank you!–but, of course, my process is very much a process, and all the errors and imperfections contribute to the whole, the way our faces and bodies reflect the lives we live. There are always lots of side roads taken on the way to the destination, but those are the most interesting journeys!

Lastly, what music, film, theatre, books (or one or any of these) has inspired you in a big way?

JK: It’s not necessarily a direct inspiration on anything but, in New York, I just recently saw Elevator Repair Service’s production of “Gatz,” which is “The Great Gatsby,” turned into theatre, every word read onstage, and every character inhabited. It’s something like eight hours long and was so demonstrative of how art can intersect with time. It takes what is already an incredible work into another dimension. And so resonant to the American experience, historically and, especially, now.

‘Temporal’ is out now on The Leaf Label.

https://www.juliakent.com/

http://www.theleaflabel.com/

Written by admin

February 11, 2019 at 9:39 pm

Posted in CHOSEN ONE

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  1. […] “ JK: I’m always interested in processing organic textures and combining them with electroni… […]

  2. […] coincide with the release of “Temporal”, the world-renowned Canadian cellist and composer Julia Kent’s majestic fifth studio album, we are excited to present a very special guest mix compiled by […]


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