Jessika Kenney is known for having worked with all manner of the avant-garde, but on the evidence of Atria, her debut solo album, she is an even better leader than she is a collaborator. Kenney’s vocals and viola meld with gamelan ensembles for a deeply atmospheric and satisfying whole. Wow. Limited to 300 copies, on SIGE.
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- SIGE036 / Limited LP on SIGE. Edition of 300 copies with hand-stamped labels + oversize booklet
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- Atria by Jessika Kenney
9/10 Laurie Staff review, 05 August 2015
Gonna do this one first cuz I like the cover. Smudgy drizzles. Getting real in-depth overviews here at NR. Jessika Kenney is an experimental person who channels that into Javanese-Persian hybrid compositions and complex webs of dangling speakers, immersing listening folk in an atrium of her design. She’s collaborated with Eyvind Kang, that violin dude who played with Secret Chiefs 3, both of them having played on 2004’s ‘Book of Horizons’, Kenney in the sub-group Holy Vehm, who are the hyper death metal preachers that spawned this.
Atria, her first full solo LP, isn’t hyper death metal. It’s a spectrum of chamber pieces for gamelan and traditional Persian string and percussion instruments with Kenney’s voice reciting beautiful somethings through it all. At times, its organisation is sparse with gradually unfolding melodies (‘Sarira Tunggal’), but at others the regular pulse of the gamelan takes over (‘Her Sword’) and dunks you in a world between worlds, the sounds of gamelan but the scales and voice of Persian tradition. It’s sort of like the Iranian version of John Zorn’s acoustic Masada collection, just not 10000 books long. Mr Kang joins for some viola action among other touches, but that’s just a guy with a name. Just listen to the vibrating bowly objects and fragile vocals of ‘Pamor’, and you forget about most things and sit there in one of Kenney’s chambers.
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