January 14, 2011
It is rare these days that I find new music, from a new artist (new to me, any way) that I like enough to purchase. In the last decade I've only added four new artists to my listening rotation: Nanci Griffith, Evanescence, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Loreena McKennitt. A quick follow of those links will reveal that these artists cover a broad spectrum from contemporary country to Celtic-inspire folk, and from gothic rock to percussive guitar.
Today I added a fifth new artist and a new genre to my collection. Zoë Keating is an avant-cellist. She utilizes an acoustic cello, some pickups and microphones, some looping software on a MacBook Pro, and a foot pedal arrangement that allows her to interact with the software while she is playing. She explains her approach to music in this Wired video article.
The result is a sonic landscape that is layered and full of textures. You have never heard a cello played like this before. It is the most intoxicating music I've heard in a long, long time. The only thing that comes close is Rodrigo y Gabriela, whose percussive style is also unique in the guitar world.
There are any number of YouTube videos of Ms. Keating, but I highly recommend the Wired performance of Escape Artist to start.