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Gemma Ray Plays Anno Domini Gallery

In Music
RADIANT: Berlin-based singer-songwriter Gemma Ray performs at Anno Domini next week.

RADIANT: Berlin-based singer-songwriter Gemma Ray performs at Anno Domini next week.

Gemma Ray is one of those singer-songwriters whose saturated, soulful sound is at once eerily familiar and yet completely distinct from anything else in today’s pop music landscape. Pulling from a range of influences and sound textures—including Pink Floyd, ’60s girl groups and the musical scores of John Barry—Ray’s sonic palate is unquestionably her own, which is why it might be best to allow her to describe it.

“My music is a genuine expression and an extension of myself,” she says of her “psychedelic torch singer” sound. “I never set out to be a certain genre or pursue a set type of music, but I guess there’s always been a psychedelic element in what I do—that’s a consistent thing—and I suppose I am kind of a soul singer.”

The UK-born, Berlin-based multi-instrumentalist makes her San Jose debut at the Anno Domini art gallery in SoFA, where she’ll perform songs from her latest release, The Exodus Suite, along with selections from her six previous albums.

Recorded entirely live, The Exodus Suite is a reflection of Ray’s multifarious talents as a musician and songwriter and highlights a somber, harmonically rich sound. Tracked in a small studio, tucked away inside an empty airport in Berlin, the emotions captured on the album play into the circumstances under which the record was put together; at the time, the abandoned airport was housing Syrian refugees who ended up playing an unexpected role on the sound of the finished recording.

“The way I recorded the album was very live, and I think a lot of the sound of the children playing or just general noise from the hangar below worked its way into the vocal mics,” Ray explains. “So, physically, a lot of that experience was captured into the live recording. It was very strange to have that insight into the situation.”

Though Ray’s music isn’t political by any stretch, politics can’t help but play a part in the tone of The Exodus Suite, which at times sounds and feels like the soundtrack to a movie. Though her sound has evolved over the years, her compositions have always maintained the quality of a film score, once the vocals are taken stripped away. “I’ve always written songs from a visual place,” she say. “And I’m trying to create a picture with my sound.”

Gemma Ray
Dec 5, 7pm
Anno Domini, San Jose

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