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Julia Kent Temporal

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There is a growing appetite for loop-heavy solo cello music in alternative music of late, thanks in part to the increasing profile of the likes of Jo Quail on the international stage. Canadian Julia Kent has been ruling this particular roost for some time, and her sixth album Temporal is a masterclass in the combination of lush layers of shimmering string sound with subtle hints of electronics and other instrumentation, coming together as a warming and dynamic soundscape.

Twelve-minute opener 'Last Hour Story' is a slowly evolving meditation with a subtle yet cinematic drama that could easily suit the soundtrack of many of today's historical TV dramas - fitting, as the album was originally conceived to soundtrack theatrical performance. The cinematic vibe is repeated in different moods throughout, like the more spiritually uplifting 'Floating City'.

Kent's timbral alchemy is at its peak on 'Imbalance', where steady pulses drive through an ebbing and flowing organ line that deftly interweaves with the urgent cello. The crucial but minimal rhythmic drive of synthetic drums on tracks like 'Sheared' also highlight this striking inventiveness, while keeping the focus on the swathes of string sound. There is a balance of earthiness and plaintiveness that only a cello can achieve, and together with concentrated releases of energy, the range of this beautiful instrument is explored on tracks both long and short.

Temporal is neither easy-listening background music nor too overtly arresting. Rife with sumptuous pads and more tense moments, though never straying into true aggression, It's atmospheric as well as emotionally stirring, in a quietly subtle way. Crossovers in texture should mean this finds favour with post-rock fans as well as those coming from the classical angle, and while not every track holds conscious attention throughout, plenty of Temporal is gorgeous.

Richard Spencer

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