Jessica Moss may best be known for her 15-year tenure in political post-punk band Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Constellation Records label-mates who share members with Godspeed You! Black Emperor. But Moss has been blossoming as a solo artist since before the release of her acclaimed debut album Pools Of Light in spring 2017. Even though her solo recorded music practice only charts back to 18 months ago, she is no newcomer to solo performance.
She has played 80 shows in the past year, including appearances at acclaimed avant-garde music festivals such as Big Ears, WSO New Music, Le Guess Who?, Zemlika and Supersonic, has participated in multiple editions of Basilica Hudson’s 24-Hour Drone Fest, and has shared bills with the likes of Zu, BIG|BRAVE (on whose most recent album she also plays), and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Her next stop is Hintonburg on Monday December 10 to perform in the tucked-away venue General Assembly.
I first saw Jessica Moss perform in 2014 at the then newly-open Bar le Ritz in Montreal, opening for Yamantaka // Sonic Titan. I was so captivated by her gritty and warmly expressive tones, generated with violin and processed through various effects, conjuring up sounds from a dark, mysterious place and rebelling against conventional structures of melody and rhythm.
While the two acts on that Montreal stage were vastly different in terms of genre, Moss’ drone-inflected post-classical Minimalism (and sometimes Maximalism), accented by a distinctive melodic sensibility that channels Klezmer, Balkan and Middle Eastern tropes, fit in just as seamlessly with the six-piece progressive metal group I saw her play with 2014 as it will with the minimal baroque-pop of Ottawa’s Her Harbour, who will join her at the Ottawa show on Monday, Moss’ compositions transcend genre and cohesiveness, filling each space they are performed in with a haunted celestial expanse. Like the night sky, it is both a presence and a void.
Her Harbour’s music evokes a similar sense of space and presence. Her compositions develop gently from minimal arrangements stretching out in expansive space, punctuated by quiet swells of ghostly reverberations. On songs such as “Hewing Crowns,” the album opener to HH’s 2017 release Go Gently Into the Night, Gabrielle Giguere’s sublime operatic voice softly drips out, developing a carefully paced narrative that gains momentum, rises and overflows into a moment of brilliant climactic presence.
Jessica Moss and Her Harbour both create long-attention-span music that wonderfully synthesises form and substance, spit and polish, austerity and lushness, expansiveness and intimacy. Come find yourself at this intimate artist-run show space on Monday, Dec 10 and allow these unique artists to fill your cup with nourishing resonance.
Jessica Moss and Her Harbour perform this Monday, December 10, 2018 at General Assembly (5 Fairmont Ave), starting at 8:00 pm. The show is all ages and licensed. The entrance to General Assembly is accessible by ramp. The bathroom is gender neutral and also accessible. The show is lovingly presented by Debaser. Advance tickets are $12 + service fees, and can be purchased online.