Album Reviews

Jessica Moss: Galaxy Heart

The Canadian violinist returns with the companion piece to last year’s ‘Phosphenes’.

Following last year’s Phosphenes, Montréal-based violinist/composer Jessica Moss returns with companion piece, Galaxy Heart, which marks her fourth record in five years.

Moss has been a staple of the Montréal experimental scene, featuring in Thee Silver Mt. Zion for 15 years, along with contributing to works not limited to BIG|BRAVE, Carla Bozulich, Sarah Davachi, and Broken Social Scene.

With her distinctive delivery of amplified violin, Moss has underpinned many of the recordings she has featured on, and it’s only via a deep dive into her own body of work that you realise just how influential she has been over the last three decades.

While Galaxy Heart is billed as a companion piece to Phosphenes, in truth it poses more as its rebellious sibling. Among these 10 tracks, this is Jessica Moss showcasing the finest aspects of her life’s work in just under 46 minutes.

Floating Points: In Conversation with Esmerine’s Bruce Cawdron

Like Phosphenes, Galaxy Heart was self-produced in isolation during the lockdown period, and you can feel this from the off with Resistance Creature. Through harsh distortions and drones, Moss creates a kind of chamber punk not heard throughout the neo-classical landscape.

Uncanny Being (Violin Study #2) features Thierry Amar (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion and founder of vital Montréal studio Hotel2Tango) on upright bass and Jim White (Dirty Three, Xxylouris White, Springtime, et al) on drums. Their inclusion sees Moss like never before, with an improv’ freak out that stands as one of her most expansive compositions yet.

Jessica Moss - Galaxy Heart

From here Galaxy Heart really opens up. The Continuous Spectrum contains the weary atmospheres cloaked in the kind of dystopian dread GY!BE have harnessed over the years, and the remnants leak into Is There Room For All of It. Another fractured improv’ passage where, for the first time, we are greeted with Moss’ vocals, which cut through the fog. So too during the eastern influenced Enduring Oceans – one of the shining beacons of Galaxy Heart. With a lo-fi tape hiss, it almost sounds like Moss being backed by A Hawk And A Hacksaw.

It’s probably only eclipsed by the title track – a piercing meditative drone with the fragments of Turkish psychedelia, which then slowly unfurls into a misty hymnal vibe fit for churches.

T. Gowdy: Miracles

Moss continues the break her own boundaries with the beautifully titled Light Falls on Every Door and Undirected. Amid a backdrop of rich, otherworldly dreamscapes, these are grandiose avant-folk laments that bleed with emotion.

As closing composition, Opening End, ties Galaxy Heart together, it also brings to the light the truths Moss spoke of in the lead-up to the album’s release. Speaking of Uncanny Being (Violin Study #2), after sending sound files back and forth to Amar and White from the belly of lockdown, Moss said that their final recordings contained “answers I could never have expected, opening doors I could never have dreamed of.”

It embodies the spirit of Galaxy Heart. The rich. The grandiose. The emotional weight. The fearless virtuosity. The Meticulousness. Moss showcases all of them stridently, transcending the notions of neo-classical with something that can be considered a punk record. Galaxy Heart is all-encompassing and the record Moss has always threatened to make.

Galaxy Heart is out now via Constellation. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

3 replies on “Jessica Moss: Galaxy Heart”

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