In an era of trash and dumbed-down culture, fast-food, fast-fashion, fast-fame and digital everything in which music, words and images can be downloaded, consumed and then discarded in a few seconds at the click of a button, it is thrilling to discover artists who still have a real vision that translates into a complex, intellectually and visually stimulating body of work and beautifully crafted and thought-through "products".
Take cellist Jo Quail's new album, Caldera, which launched last Saturday at The Islington in London.
The Caldera limited edition package contains a gorgeously manufactured CD, a hand-finished DVD (with a red wax seal! I have a thing for red wax seals...) and prints by photographer Karolina Urbaniak, who is also responsible for the imagery and layout of the album. The whole album is a genuine work of art.
For the event, Jo - who usually performs on her own with her trusty Starfish electric cello - was surrounded by an impressive group of collaborators:
Francesca Ter-Berg (cello), Rachel Jones (violin), George Mattar (violin), Al Richardson (percussion), Eilish McCracken (piano), Jim Rattigan (french horn), Ruban Byrne (guitar), Sebastian Lee (viola) and Jonathan Farey (french horn), Daemonia Nymphe and Lucie Dehli.
Adrian Ainsworth, who has written some beautiful sleeve notes for the Caldera album, has posted a review of the evening, and I don't think anyone could have done it better than him - I most certainly couldn't, especially with some awful radio blaring out of some builders' van two houses down the road as I type... welcome to the real world.
Read his report on this very special event HERE.
Live and solo, Jo can reconstruct fully layered versions of most of her material armed with her cello and fearsome control panel of loop pedals. On this occasion, however, some of Jo's tracks were going out on the town in new clothes - and as a result, we saw and heard something unique and unforgettable: like the cauldron of the album's title, a true melting pot, part the sound of the new record, part Jo's normal show, and then a whole variety of extra ingredients to savour.