Artist: Jo Quail
Title: Five Incantation
Genre: Classical / Cello / Atmospheric / Choral Music / Post Classical / Metal
Release Date: 20th November 2020
Label: Adderstone Records
JO QUAIL is one of those artists that have a strong charismatic streak running through the centre of their very being. And an intriguing force that pulls you in in the same way that one would succumb to the dictates of a wave pushing you towards wherever it desires you to go. JO QUAIL’s music has this quality about it that exudes charisma and a feeling of aural and spiritual refreshment. I’ve not listened to ‘Five Incantations’ for a while but when I heard that it would be rereleased on double vinyl, I had to delve back in to reacquaint myself with the ‘Cellorific’ delights within.
‘Five Incantations’ was originally released in 2016. It was conceived a year earlier whilst Jo was on her 4th tour of Australia. She says: “Whether practically this was due to an intense focus on music minus the day to day existence, the remoteness of being a mum away from my family, or myriad of other reason I cannot guess, but I felt swept away by this sensation and immediately began to write what became ‘Five Incantations’. The album is a suite of interlinked movements, each individual yet essentially drawn from the same theme. It has been recorded and will be performed at 432hz. Each movement describes a personal reflection on one of the cardinal points, with the fifth aspect being the spirit.” The cardinal points being North, East, South and West.
I know where I am when I listen to this piece. I am here! My mind is not over there or over there. I am not spinning like a compass surrounded by magnets. What this music does is focus my mind in this actual moment and what I have noticed is that when I try to pull away from it, I get gently coaxed back to where I was, now. This album is devoid of angst and anger. It comes across as a refreshing tonic with airy tones accented by the drag of the cello’s low notes. It’s as if there is a longing to be somewhere else but due to the distance between the “there” and “here” one has to accept that the “here” is the current reality so there is no point in wasting energy on something that for the time being cannot be. Just jump head first into the present experience and extract from it as much enjoyment, knowledge or what have you as you can. Because this experience will fortify you and sustain you later on… You are essentially “Between Two Waves”.
I always feel warm when I listen to ‘Gold’ I am walking in wide open spaces. All I can hear is my footsteps and my breath. No other being can be heard or seen, not even an animal, just trees, ground and sky. The metronomic taps hypnotise me whilst the toing and froing of the cello’s bow sends shivers and tickles down my arms and back. If this is what “oneness with the gods” feels like then I want to experience more of this! The video for this track has Jo walking through phalanxes of trees and the camera follows her from behind and from above. It absorbs her into the environment, she is one with it. The imagery does inform my imagination, with my own embellishments added.
The final track on the reissue is a live version of ‘The Breathing Hand’ performed in Gdansk with the Choir of The Capella Gedanensis and Alicja Lach-Owsiany. It’s a floaty piece this, and airy, like down floating in a thermal updraft. It reminds me of something but no matter how hard I try to grasp it I cannot! And, as soon as I finish the sentence it comes to me. I am reminded of the soundtrack at the beginning of ‘Interview With A Vampire’. There is a questioning thread to this piece but at the same time the questioning does not seem to be of an urgent nature, like the answers are not demanded. It’s a daydream in musical form, a hair twisting glassy eyed daydream.
I’ll sum up this album with one word: - Purity.
01. White Salt Stag
02. The Breathing Hand
04. Between The Waves Pt 1
05. Between The Waves Pt 2
07. The Breathing Hand Live
Jo Quail - Cello and Composition
Alicja Lach Owsiany - Cello on ‘The Breathing Hand’ Live
Cappella Gedanensis - Vocals on ‘The Breathing Hand’ Live
Peter Junge - Mixing on ‘The Breathing Hand’ Live
Ake Tireland - Sleeve Art
Total: 9 / 10