Justin Wright
Music for Staying Warm

by Jim Di Gioia

April 15, 2019

Cellist Justin Wright’s Music For Staying Warm is fluid and effusive without feeling overdone.

It was unexpected but not at all surprising to read in a recent interview that cellist Justin Wright was once a molecular biology researcher before focussing on music full-time. Unexpected in the sense that, based on his virtuosity on the cello, one would imagine little time for other pursuits both academic and recreational; not surprising given how both his scientific and artistic passions involve understanding, unravelling, and reconstructing base elements that interact and synthesize into complex, unique creations.

Wright’s playing on his first full-length, Music For Staying Warm, is fluid and effusive without feeling overdone. Opening composition “Harmonic Loop (Playground Swings)” glows like embers burning in reverse, his subtle string work building to a warm, meditative state. No note on Music For Staying Warm is played before it’s ready. The album’s anchors (in order of appearance), “Drone IV:  Breath”, “Drone II: Flutter”, “Drone III: Saudade”, and “Drone I: Meditation” act as slow-moving seismic shifts. They murmur and moan under the weight of Wright’s dense arrangement, but are far from buzzing background noise. They demand you pay attention to every nuance.

Therein is the crux of what makes Music For Staying Warm a compelling and beautiful work of art: while not surprising that, at a molecular level, his instrumental string arrangements are melodious and lulling, Justin Wright’s complex and intricate compositions are unexpectedly mesmerizing works that shun passivity and necessitate engagement from listeners.

Jim Di Gioia

Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.
Jim Di Gioia

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