Paradise 94 is Lucy Railton’s first solo release. The cellist and composer is a prolific performer, appearing on a number of contemporary recordings and collaborations, and Paradise 94 is a stunning record. Railton’s music shimmers in an experimental haze, its smoky, loud chaos wrapped up in near-euphoric moments of lucidity. Her experimental immediacy delivers a knockout punch, even with the pacifying sustain of the cello. Nothing can chain or contain her music; it remains undefined and gloriously inverted because of it.
Paradise 94 is in need of a parental advisory warning, with stuttering melodies, a grinding onslaught of noise and sonic debris blocking the cello from ever fully liberating itself. ‘Gaslighter’’s pitch-black cello swirls in unending circles of vertigo and sickly-yellow colours light up its periphery; its shells land close to home. Archival, location and studio recordings all unite on the record, which is split in two: it’s a record of differing angles, contrasting moods, weird shapes and asymmetrical tones, giving birth to startlingly original music. The years have prepared her for this: only a well-versed musician could pull off something so audacious. The death-or-glory tones step into no-man’s-land, dismissing the safe zone and cutting into the mix head-on.
Railton’s wide-eyed music astonishes and shocks at every turn, and despite its non-linear concepts and appearance, snippets of cohesion are embedded inside. A synth-led progression will stagger away from the wreckage, stuttering and stumbling before crashing into something else. ‘For JR’ begins at a creak and then opens its yawning jaws. Reversed voices give way to a sensitive, thoughtful rendition, giving the listener a deeper sense of calm, a place of quiet. ‘Fortified Up’ acts as the coda, and here the strings climb up and up and up and up in a long, slow and continuous glissandi, building and building, rising to lightheaded altitudes. Prepare yourselves.