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Classical Music Review

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Five Incantations (2016)
(2020 Reissue)


Composer: Jo Quail
Label: Adderstone Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 20 November 2020

Five Incantations is the second release on AdderStone Records which was originally set up in 2019 with the initial aim of reissuing Jo Quail's back catalogue on vinyl. The first being a release of her 2018 album Exsolve which led to Quail picking up the Limelight Award at the Progressive Music Awards in 2019...

Modern classical music can be incredibly hit and miss, and is so subjective that reviewing the genre fairly is never an easy task. On a lot of occasions there's too much self indulgent nonsense, with composers seeking out ways to make new sounds emerge from the instruments - most of which are just awful. But when it's approached with passion and respect for music as an art form that is designed to enrich the minds and souls of listeners - as is very much the case on Five Incantations - it can be a thing of pure delight.

I hadn't heard this album on its original release, but I was surprised to discover that I knew 'The Breathing Hand' incredibly well... I can only surmise that I put it on in the background when I was transferring the music to my ipod... which just goes to show how memorable Quail's themes are.

Other highlights include 'Gold', which is hypnotic and really does draw you in with it's dual offerings of an ever present drone, twinned with a loving, almost Scottish sounding highland tune.

The rest of the album is just as impressive, but you'll find that each track has its own focal point and that each time you revisit the album you'll discover something else a little different that you can't believe you didn't spot before.

A modern classical masterpiece, which doesn't disappoint.


Darren Rea

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