asperity (æˈspɛrɪtɪ) noun (plural) -ties
1. roughness or sharpness of temper
2. roughness or harshness of a surface, sound, taste, etc
3. a condition hard to endure; affliction
4. (physics) the elastically compressed region of contact between two surfaces caused by the normal force
“I was thinking about the concept of difficulty. Whether in life or in nature - of conflict, of being troubled. The idea of
friction. Also in geology, an asperity is some part of a faultline that doesn’t move which can create an earthquake,
which is quite an evocative concept.” Asperities is the fourth solo album by acclaimed Canadian
cellist Julia Kent. As the title suggests, this is a record born of conflict: internal, personal and global. Universal themes.
The build of pressure and the threat of violent release. Modern guilt. Modern fears.
Kent draws from a rich well of emotion, the pieces deceptively rendered, each feeling like a miniature dramatic
epic in its own right – sculpted and self-contained. Her work on recent film scores is very much in evidence. While
cinematic in scope, there is nothing as trite as a Hollywood ending here. There is tension and darkness, the edges
cracked and frayed. “A lot of the melodic material is based on semitones,” Julia elaborates. “So in the music there is an
inherent sense of dissonance; that things are too close for comfort. More generally, it seems like a particularly dark
time in the world right now, and I think that definitely had an influence too.”
The album was recorded, produced and mixed in its entirety by Julia in her New York studio. This method of working lends the record a sense of isolation that carries a powerful resonance in our modern over-connected world. “I really like the autonomy of working alone,” she says. “I feel that I can transmit something emotionally that I might not be able to if there were someone else involved.”
Utilising looped cello, electronics and found sounds, Kent creates a world where the technological and the organic
merge in perfect symbiosis, the layers of sound peeling back to reveal a beating, bloody human heart at its centre. “I did
quite a lot of processing of the cello sound and used different electronic textures,” she explains of her technique.
“I was trying to get away from the acoustic cello sound and “I was trying to get away from the acoustic cello sound and find one that was more textural and more expressive of the
Throughout the plaintive strains of opener ‘Hellebore’, the prowling grace of ‘The Leopard’, the elegant restraint of ‘Heavy
Eyes’ and the immersive closer ‘Tramontana’, Kent’s cello evokes romance and loss, a yearning for simplicity. This is the
soundtrack to the transitory nature of life and the inevitability of death.
Vancouver-born and New York-based, Julia Kent rose to prominence with Rasputina and Antony & The Johnsons. Her
extensive résumé includes recent work with Swans, Aidan Baker, Rachel Grimes, Rutger Zuydervelt, Barbara
Morgenstern, Library Tapes and Khan of Finland.
Kent has also composed extensively for film, theatre and dance. Her cinematic work includes the documentaries The
Boxing Girls of Kabul and Rwanda, L’Impossible Pardon, American feature A Short History of Decay, short films Doppio
Urlo, and the award-winning Oasis. Her music also was used in Paolo Sorrentino’s 2011 film This Must Be The Place. As a
solo artist she has toured extensively in Europe and North America and performed at festivals including Primavera Sound,
Reeperbahn, Unsound, and Meltdown.
Green And Grey (2011)
“A listening experience of nearly cavernous depth and poetic beauty”4/5 AllMusic
“This sublime performer has found her true voice…inspiring the possibility that every subsequent album will be her
greatest” A Closer Listen
“Emotionally and stylistically direct… To achieve such directness and freedom of expression through the cello – to many
listeners an instrument so closely tied to its past and cultural saturation – is no mean feat” Dummy
On Green And Grey:
“Arguably the prettiest album of the year” 4.5/5 eMusic
“Kent surrounds a fabric of gorgeous cello melodies with excerpts of burbling brooks and chirping cicadas, letting the
sounds sit closely but distinctly in one same ruminative space. Strangely and surprisingly intimate” Pitchfork
“Julia Kent plays cello with the painfully bitter sweet pensive finesse for which it was designed” The Silent Ballet
After years of playing cello with a myriad of artists and ensembles,
Julia Kent retired to her Lower East Side apartment to make a solo
record inspired by touring and the disjunctions of travel. Incorporating
multitracked cello, omnichord, and field recordings from airports
around the world, her "lovely, melancholy," compositions, full of
"aching romanticism ... rich melodicism, and detailed arrangements,"
make up /Delay/, her solo debut, released by Shayo Records in Europe and
Important Records in North America.
She has performed
solo in Europe, the UK, New York, and Canada, using live looping and
effects to create layers of melody and rhythm on the cello. Of her
appearance at the Donau Festival in Austria, the Wire said: “Cellist
Julia Kent's set, in which she sampled and played over herself, was a
thing of miniature beauty.” Lucid Culture described a recent New York
appearance as: "...riveting and frequently cinematic...moving from
trippy, echoey and atmospheric to stark and haunting..."