By Norse is proud to announce the signing of the internationally acclaimed composer and virtuoso cellist from London, Jo Quail. Equally at home on stage as a solo performer, with bands, or in collaboration with a choir and orchestra – she combines an eloquent mastery of her instrument with innovative looping techniques, to realize her complex, evocative music for audiences worldwide.
Inspired by the visual arts as much as by fellow composers, Jo cites Barbara Hepworth and Georgia O’Keefe as key influences, alongside the diverse music of Debussy, Pärt, Tool, and Cardiacs. As a result, she freely crosses the boundaries between genres, awakening listener emotions, and taking audiences into uncharted territory with each concert. Her exuberant, celebratory performance style has won her a fan base in the contemporary classical world as well as among enthusiasts of post-rock, metal and electronica.
Jo Quail comments on the signing: “I am thrilled to be signing with By Norse Music for the release of the Cartographer. I have such enormous respect for their willingness to support those of us who are not easily categorized, or who work across different genres. They work with some amazing musicians that I really admire and take a lot of inspiration from, and it is an honor for me, for ‘The Cartographer’, to be welcomed into this prestigious family”.
Now at a stage where she is touring throughout Europe and internationally, Jo enters 2022 with her most ambitious project yet. In April, she will appear at the internationally renowned Roadburn Festival performing a piece of work commissioned by the festival. The piece, titled “The Cartographer”, was originally scheduled for the 2020 edition, but will now be performed at the 013 venue in Tilburg, the Netherlands this coming April. “The Cartographer” explores the space where classical instrumentation and contemporary heavy music intersect.
In Jo Quail’s words: “What makes music heavy? In my opinion, as an artist and composer straddling both classical and contemporary genres the concept of heaviness in music is experienced via the intention of the composer, and then the delivery of the performance. Arguably heaviness is an emotional concept, reaching far beyond the confines of volume, speed and instrumentation”.
Due to delays in the live premiere of the commissioned project, Jo was afforded the opportunity to record “The Cartographer” with the assistance of the PRS ‘Women Make Music Award’. “The Cartographer” was recorded in Holland at Groenland Studios with the full ensemble of contributing musicians, and will be released as a studio album in May this year. An incredible landmark, but one from which there is so much more coming into view for the future.
“The Cartographer” is set for release on May 6th, 2022, and will be available as CD digipak with 8-pages booklet, limited colored 2×12” LP (online exclusive), regular black 2×12” LP and digital. The album can be pre-ordered: EU/World & North America. Pre-save it here.
The first episode of the documentary series on “The Cartographer” can be watched below.
1. Movement 1
2. Movement 2
3. Movement 3
4. Movement 4
5. Movement 5
When composing the piece, Jo Quail decided almost immediately to write for trombones, specifically eight members of the acclaimed Dutch ensemble The New Trombone Collective. The first thing she envisaged was the juxtaposition of a solo violin accompanied by a huge wave of brass, and the form of “The Cartographer” emerged from this sound world. She scored for extensive orchestral percussion (including the largest TamTam she could get hold of!) and included herself on electric cello with her usual set up incorporating live looping, a pianist, and two vocalists, both parts written with and specifically for these individual singers.
“The Cartographer” is a piece composed of prose of five phrases, each phrase containing an intention for the different movements. Each of these musical phrases is pared through the artist’s pitch system and created the musical motif on which the whole work is based. This motif is presented in full in the first solo violin entry.
Jo Quail comments: “The music I write tends to evolve even after I’ve recorded and released it and having, unexpectedly, had the extra time to spend with ‘The Cartographer’ has allowed me to deepen my connection to it. It has grown in a way that means whilst the dots on the page remain unchanged, it’s somehow not quite the same piece I would have presented in 2020 but it tells the same story – I hope, better!
I tend to have a very particular structure in mind when I begin writing, and this was especially true for ‘The Cartographer’ – I can then work more intuitively to paint the narrative within that framework. There is always a narrative or story that I’m telling, and those listening will create their own story from what they hear – I love that”.
European Tour Dates 2022:
04.03.22 – Lafayette – London (UK) (w/ A.A. Williams)
17.03.22 – Royal Festival Hall London (UK)*
18.03.22 – Manchester Albert Hall (UK)*
20.03.22 – Corn Exchange Cambridge (UK)*
21.03.22 – Symphony Hall Birmingham (UK)*
22.03.22 – Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow (UK)*
23.03.22 – Vicar Street Dublin (UK)*
01.04.22 – L’Etage – Rennes (FR)**
02.04.22 – Elysée Montmartre Paris (FR)**
04.04.22 – Rockhal Luxembourg (LU)**
05.04.22 – Tivoli Ronda Utrecht (NL)**
06.04.22 – Essigfabrik Cologne (DE)**
07.04.22 – Meetfactory Prague (CZ)**
08.04.22 – Dürer Kert Budapest (HU)**
09.04.22 – Kruhnen Musik Halle (RO)**
11.04.22 – Klub Kwadrat Krakow (PL)**
12.04.22 – Astra Kulturhaus Berlin (DE)**
13.04.22 – Freiheizhalle Munich (DE)**
14.04.22 – Post Tenebras Rock – L’Usine Geneva (CH)**
15.04.22 – Le Rex de Toulouse (FR)**
16.04.22 – Shôko Madrid (ES)**
17.04.22 – Atabal Biarritz (FR)**
18.04.22 – CCO Lyon (FR)**
19.04.22 – L’Aéronef Lille (FR)**
23.04.22 – Roadburn Festival
27.05.22 – Dunk! Festival
20.08.22 – Arctangent Festival
07.10.22 – Amplifest 2022
17.12.22 – Bataclan, Paris (FR) (w/ Alcest)
* (w/ Wardruna)
** (w/ Amenra)