Julia Kent

(Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Delay (2007), 6.5/10
Green and Grey (2011), 6/10
Character (2013), 5/10
Asperities (2015), 5/10
Temporal (2019), 6/10

Canadian cellist Julia Kent moved to New York and formed the cello trio Rasputina, documented on Thanks For The Ether (1996) and How We Quit The Forest (1998). She then joined Antony and the Johnsons with whom she recorded I Am a Bird Now (2005) and The Crying Light (2009). Meanwhile, she had debuted solo with Delay (Important, 2007), an album of impressionistic solo cello compositions (occasionally augmented with found sounds) dedicated to airports, notably the elegant and geometric Idlewild, the twisted adagio Fontanarossa, the serenely multitracked Venizelos, the slightly neurotic Dorval, and the ominously pounding Tempelhof. Each carefully architected piece straddles baroque music, minimalism, and free-form meditation, without settling on either. The scores may be cerebral but the result is warm and graceful.

After the four-song EP Last Day in July (Lento, 2010) Kent released her second album, Green and Grey (Tin Angel, 2011), eleven vignettes for cello, electronics, and field recordings. This time the compositions radiate a sense of stately and almost Eastern concentration. The ethereal elegance of Delay is replaced by the grave structures of Pleiades, Wake Low and The Toll. The music seems ready to stop at any time, as if hypnotized (Tithonos, Overlook).

She also started composing film soundtracks: The Boxing Girls of Kabul (2012), A Short History of Decay (2013), Birthplace (2013), and Oasis (2014).

Meanwhile, Character (The Leaf Label, 2013) further experimented with multitracking the instrument. Each piece is a difference consequence of that approach. The result is both slow and symphonic in Ebb, an intricate counterpoint in Transportation, something akin to sinister musique concrete in Kingdom a dissonant form of new-age music in Intent.

The pieces of Asperities (The Leaf Label, 2015) are marked by more melodrama and tension, notably the industrial rhythms of Hellebore and Terrain, but also the resigned sighs of Flag of No Country. On the other hand the mournful Lac des Arcs attains quasi-Zen transcendence.

Temporal (The Leaf Label, 2019) was the first of her albums to include a lengthy composition, the 12-minute Last Hour Story, originally scored for a dance performance, an impeccable demonstration of her restrained introverted counterpoint technique. Another first was the use of manipulated voices. The album spans a broad spectrum of moods and modes, from the gloomy glitch-ambient music of Imbalance to the delicate romantic serenade of Through the Window and the supernatural trance of Crepuscolo.

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