Since the release of her previous album ‘Five Incantations’ in 2016, internationally acclaimed composer and virtuoso cellist Jo Quail has been touring extensively across Europe performing alongside the likes of Boris, Amenra, Caspian, Myrkur and Winterfylleth. Festival performances this year include ArcTanGent, WGT, Dunk! and Tramlines Festival, and two separate concerts at the invitation of Robert Smith for his curation of the Southbank’s Meltdown Festival.Jo’s new album ‘Exsolve’, recorded with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios (Electric Wizard, Primordial, Witchsorrow, Conan), will be released on 2nd November. Watch the trailer with an excerpt of the track ‘Mandrel Cantus’ below!
The initial ideas for ‘Exsolve’ were formed following an invitation to perform at the Arp Museum in Bonn, to celebrate the Barbara Hepworth ‘Sculpture for a Modern World’ exhibition (previously at the Tate Modern). Jo comments, ‘as well as my standard concert repertoire from my previous three albums I wanted to write and perform something specifically to honour these beautiful works. I wrote a piece for solo cello called ‘Single Form’ which explored the cello physically, using the extensive pitch range and then creating a sonic ‘hole’ literally by handshape and position on the neck, mirroring the curves and spaces in Hepworth’s work.’
While ‘Single Form’ doesn’t appear on the new album, the writing process behind it went on to inform and help mould all the pieces on ‘Exsolve’. Jo adds, ‘there are many aspects of Barbara Hepworth’s life and works that inspired the early creative stage of this album. She talked of the left hand ‘seeing’ and the right hand then carving, and I found this analogy greatly inspiring. I wanted to explore what it actually feels like physically to play cello and at the same time I wanted to write something ambitious, brave and proud, something that pushes beyond what I had done before in terms of live looping, yet something that has the weight and certainty of a monolith for want of a better term!’