Tess Roby’s album Beacon shines a light on the lives that have influenced us and the towering coastal artifices that guard the flames of memory. A record composed after the passing of Roby’s father with an assist from her brother Eliot—the record’s meditative catharsis returns to a place of their youth spent on Ashurst Hill in Dalton, Lancashire. A brick watch-post made during the Napoleonic War serves as a centerpiece for Tess’s ballad cycles that stand with one foot rooted in the pondered meanings of nostalgia with the other foot firmly grounded in the future.
Beacon is the sound of the Montreal-based artist taking a mystic trip back home to the familiar coastal countryside. Morning light & reflective sights are heard on “Given Signs”, the pensive places found on “Ballad 5”, the Chromatics-esque choral piece “Catalyst”, to the sincere strolls up the climes of “Plasticine Hills”. The title track feels like the re-visitation of ancient landmarks recalled from earlier eras, accentuating the percolating processes of memory itself on “Tripling”, as the synths sometimes sparkle with the effects of effervescent apparitions like “Air Above Mirage”, concluding with the closing hymn of “Borders” that brings the meditative journey of mystic wandering full circle.
Tess Roby provided the following exclusive reflections on the praxis & processes involved with the creation of the new album:
Three years in the making, Beacon finally exists in my hands. My mother received her record before I did, opened the package carefully and wept as she took the plastic wrap off the first one. Beacon has been an adventure; a journey I could have never imagined when I began to write the album in the summer of 2015.
The Beacon exists in Lancashire, England, not far from the city where my father was born and the house where I spent summers as a child. Throughout my life I have returned to it; there are photographs of me there as a child (one of them appears on the gatefold of the LP), stories of my parents spending new years there and watching fireworks light up the surrounding countryside. I’ve seen it in every light, in every season. I have never seen another structure quite like it, one so ominous yet forgiving at the same time. My dad loved it there, and the landscape of Northern England, of Lancashire and Yorkshire, will never not remind me of him. He passed away in the spring of 2014, and this album is dedicated to him. Charlie Roby was a musician himself, always pushing me to record, to write, quietly listening as I played the piano in our kitchen, telling me which lyrics and melodies stood out to him. I am grateful to be an artist, and that I had the ability to channel such a loss into music and photography. To use it as a tool to understand, to evaluate, to heal. The music does not make me sad; it is not mournful or tragic, and I would hate the thought of it being labelled as such. It brings me joy, and resonates so clearly as a specific moment in time; one that I can only grow from.
Beacon is available now via Italians Do It Better.
Catch Tess Roby via the following dates:
21.18 918 Bathurst, Toronto, ON (Album launch show)
18 Durham, NC Moog Fest
19 Durham, NC Moog Fest
21 Washington, DC Union Stage, w/Carla Dal Forno
24 Santa Cruz, CA Catalyst, w/Carla Dal Forno
25 San Diego, CA Whistle Shop, w/ Carla Dal Forno
26 Los Angeles, CA Resident, w/Carla Dal Forno
27 San Francisco, CA The Chapel, w/Carla Dal Forno
28 Arcata, CA The Minplex, w/Carla Dal Forno
29 Portland, OR Holocene, w/ Carla Dal Forno
30 Seattle, WA Timbre Room, w/ Carla Dal Forno
01 Toronto, ON Double Double Land, w/Carla dal Forno
07 Brooklyn, NY Elsewhere, w/Carla dal Forno