Tess Roby – Catalyst

Tess Roby is preparing to release her debut album, Beacon, April 20th on the Italians Do It Better label. Ahead of that long-waited release the Montreal-based musician shares a new track, “Catalyst” and the accompanying video. You can watch the video below, if you like.

The artist composed the album in 2015, in the wake of her father’s death. This piece is described as a spiritual homage to her father and to a landmark that they would visit as a family. The Beacon – a brick monolith, built six hundred feet above sea-level as a watch tower. The purpose of this spartan construction dates back to 1798 – when the English were on guard against the French, during the Napoleonic War. There is gravity to the building, the location, the reason behind being – and of course, there is a significance to the thing in the lives of Tess Roby and her father. Any message issued from a watchtower has a real purpose. “Catalyst” is such a message that’s worth listening to.

There’s a clean tone to melody. “A catalyst of love, of everything we see….” sings Roby – her messaging is clear, and the vocal track leaves no space for misinterpretation. There is poetry, there are multi-layered ramifications in the detailing of “unrequited love” but there’s no struggle to decipher the lyrical content. Tess Roby confidentiality states the case. Here, like on the previously heard “Ballad 5” could dismantle invading armies. Alright, that’s overstatement – but it’s really fucking beautiful.

The video, directed by the artist and Hugo Bernier, shows Tess Roby’s keen photographic sensibility. Much like her approach to instrumentation nothing is forced – there are no overkeen perspectives pulling you along. A vision is shared, it’s clean, and the subject is poetic. We cascade through a sequence of natural landscapes – and nothing ugly happens in nature, not even the things that are hard to digest. When Roby pours a handful of sand into the air whilst the audio track repeats “Ringing in the air, ringing in the air….” to a close, we could have entered another realm. Suddenly we’re aware of a spell that’s been cast.





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