Galaxy Heart is the companion album to Phosphenes (Nov. 2021) and completes an intensive body of work that Montreal composer-violinist Jessica Moss wrote, performed and self-produced in deep isolation throughout 2020.
As A Closer Listen wrote in its Top Ten Modern Composition list for 2021, “few musical voices represent so well the estrangement and intensity of our times; Moss is among the best of them.” Galaxy Heart consolidates this assessment, revealing the more exploratory and extemporaneous side of her profoundly expressive instrumental lyricism. Where Phosphenes showcased some of Moss’ most deliberate and accomplished post-classical compositions to date, Galaxy Heart quivers with a raw and searching energy, juxtaposing rough-hewn and honed pieces. Expanding the palette to include spiky semi-improvised electric guitar along with remotely-recorded guest contributions from drummer Jim White (Springtime, Xylouris White, Dirty Three) and contrebassist Thierry Amar (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) on a couple of tracks, the album inscribes a (mostly) instrumental space of bristling anguish, melancholia, resoluteness and conviction.
Opening with the distorted dissonant string clusters of “Resistance Creature” and the through-composed knock-out “Uncanny Being”, with White’s roiling drums and Amar’s upright bass the simmering substratum for Moss’ alternately gritty and rounded violin movements, Galaxy Heart pivots to electric guitar and sludged post-industrial drone on “This Continuous Spectrum”, a descending melodic motif recurring over doomy low-end bursts and a slow broken-steam-engine beat. Side One closes with two vocal tracks: “Is There Room For All Of It” (again featuring White and Amar) has Moss singing and playing organ in a spine-tingling longform unison melody; the chilling title track “Galaxy Heart” calls back fractured electric guitar and droning pulse, with Moss belting out initially strangled, strident lines that give way to gently layered voicings in a cratered spaciousness—these dynamics then cycling forward like the sequences of a dying star. Side Two features three superb violin tudes, each distinguished by Moss’ distinctively amplified violin timbres and her unique ear for the tropes of various folk traditions, interspersed with the plaintive but stately vocal song “Enduring Oceans”, and closing with “Opened Ending”, her mesmerizing contribution to Constellation’s Corona Borealis Longform Singles Series from 2020, previously released only as a digital track and short film by indie legend Jem Cohen (Fugazi’s Instrument documentary, Benjamin Smoke, Museum Hours).
Galaxy Heart is cosmic music of dark matter and interstellar dust, of gravitational waves and celestial grit that connect messy terrestrial life—with its human, animal, natural suffering and beauty—to chaotic and unruly universal forces.