February 25 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm$10
Helen Gillet is a singer-songwriter and surrealist-archeologist exploring synthesized sounds, texture, and rhythm using an acoustic cello. For someone with her varied background, New Orleans, with its mix of cultures and musics, seemed like a natural place to call home. She was born in Belgium, raised in Singapore from the ages of 2 to 11, and routinely shuttled between the homelands of her Belgian father and American mother. Over the years — working in New Orleans with musicians of all stripes, from avant-garde jazz and classical to pop and funk — Gillet has developed a singular polyglot style. The core of her work is solo performance with live looping, layering cello parts and vocal lines. Rhythmic figures emerge with bowed or plucked ostinatos or a variety of rubbing and slapping on the body of the cello, then enhanced with melodies played or sung in her haunting alto. Her mixed musical vocabulary is commensurate with her disparate travels — French chanson of the 1940s, Belgian folk tunes sung in Walloon, a mix of rock and punk from the likes of PJ Harvey and X-Ray Spex, and her own affecting originals, like audience favorite “Julien,” sung in a mix of French and English. Gillet’s solo performance is known for its enigmatic quality as she fabricates each song with innovative use of the cello and true mastery of live looping technology.