Review: Jo Quail ‘Invocation/Supplication’

Over the last few years, not many musical artists have moved me in the way Jo Quail does. From my very first experience of seeing her perform to this latest release, the awakening I have had to any specific musician has never been felt as much as it is with my admiration of Jo Quail. Having seen her perform three times now, and having collected a vast number of back catalogue music, any time she appears on either her own, or someone else’s albums, I am always left completely moved by the experience.

Jo Quail 'Invocation' Artwork
Jo Quail ‘Invocation’ Artwork

I know I am not alone in this, and just looking at the list of artists she has either played with or supported on tour, is absolutely mind-blowing. The list, which includes Mono, God Is An Astronaut, Emma Ruth Rundle and My Dying Bride to name but a few, means that throughout the entirety of my record collection, she must be one of the artists with whom I have the most music of.

Having Jo’s work be part of my life is so important because its very nature elevates my mental state with each and every play. Such is the texture and understanding of sound, its very essence, and expertise in how it all works. It always so eloquently proves just what a virtuoso of the art she truly is.

With Invocation/Supplication we are provided with a masterclass in artistic freedom, and given a wonderous experience, rich in tone and texture, where timing and submersion are everything. This isn’t just a lesson in cello playing at its highest level, this is music you give yourself to, without any thought as to even the fact of how it has been achieved.

Quite simply, this is a tantric and soul encapsulating sensation. It is far beyond mere words, as words cannot truly come close to fully explaining the journey within.

Over the course of the six tracks, there is a need to try and compartmentalise any sense for each piece which sees Jo collaborating with a collective of musicians; Maria Franz and Jake Harding (vocals), Tom Atherton (percussion), Ben Ellis (bass), Julia McDonell (French horn), Steve Thompson (trombone) and The Choir of Sing United that make up the three tracks of Invocation, then on Supplication’s three compositions, she is joined by Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari (vocals) and Koen Kaptjn (trombone).

This isn’t just music, this is a wellbeing ritual, which I strongly believe everyone would gain a truer sense of calm and self-reflection from experiencing…

You may find yourself wanting to draw comparisons with such things as if it feels like it is akin to a certain continent’s native musical styles, or perhaps it reminds you of a film or television series. Yes, it has a real cinema soundscape feel to it all, but you need to look beyond that. Close your eyes, submerge yourself into the music, don’t think, but instead feel. This is what Jo does. It isn’t about if something is heavy, or light, but its about how it leaves you feeling.

For me personally, whenever I’ve witnessed her performing onstage, I tend to stand very still and close my eyes. I Let the music flow through me and create a zen like state within myself, where all I can sense is my breathing. I then let the music carry me away on a journey. It can be quite an out of body experience, and at times does usually make me quite breathless.

On her new album, this is compacted even more, and with long, timeless pieces, if you truly give yourself to the experience, it will carry you away to a completely different realm indeed.

On tracks such as Willow Of All the long, drawn-out movements of the bow against string feel so slow, time literally stops. There isn’t any sense of time or space, and all that is left is the primal, limitless void of expanse within your own soul.

It may well sound incredibly pretentious, but this I would compare to meditation, and finding that perfect zen spot where the whole of existence just falls away. By its climax, you can absolutely feel your final breath slowly be exhaled from your body, and a sense of complete calm wash over you.

Jo Quail 'Supplication' Artwork
Jo Quail ‘Supplication’ Artwork

Another example of this complete oneness with the music is during Maestoso, where those long, drawn out, beautiful passages of warm reflection, give a real chance to pause life and submerge yourself into nothingness beyond sonic bliss.

This isn’t just music, this is a wellbeing ritual, which I strongly believe everyone would gain a truer sense of calm and self-reflection from experiencing. It doesn’t exist to upset, or antagonise, its true power is in the intense love, which is poured in, by someone who I would really say is one of the modern-day masters. A composer for the twenty-first century, who more than just rivals the likes of Beethoven and Bach, but pushes beyond, with an understanding of the truest essence of music, and its power over the soul.

As always, with Jo’s work, I will push to say that it’s something which mere words cannot convey eloquently enough its true majesty. It has to be heard to be believed, and it isn’t for casual pleasure. This is for a higher state of existence, it transcends genre, context, and understanding, and hits at the truest form of art, one in which you not only see, hear, or feel but absolutely envelope into your being and soul completely.

A beautiful work of art, a testament to the artist, someone who I will forever be changed by, thank you Jo, your mark on the universe speaks beyond mere words, and reaches inside, to the centre of my heart.

Label: By Norse
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish