Jorja Chalmers - Midnight Train
Jorja Chalmers enjoys a quiet life. The Australian born mother of two lives in Margate, the Kent coastal town that is turning into something of a cultural hub. Yet there’s another, shadow version of Jorja Chalmers, one that resides in a liminal realm; a saxophonist & composer, a brooding, vampiric, twilight soul who yearns for some sense of aesthetic transformation.
New album Midnight Train comes close to severing the two. Constructed during the long winter lockdown, Jorja would put her kids to bed before closing the door in the spare room, building lengthy, undulating passages of cinematic terror, patching together European art-pop glamour with outsider electronics. It’s composed, intense, and challenging—but it’s also utterly exhilarating.
It’s not been a straight-forward path. Burned out following years of classical studies in her native Sydney, Jorja traveled half-way round the world looking for an escape. Settling for some ad hoc office jobs in London, she started kicking around in b&s, playing saxophone for a friend’s new wave project. Someone from Bryan Ferry’s team spotted her at some flea-bit bar, and was infatuated—soon Jorja started touring the world with Roxy Music.
Jorja’s 2019 debut album Human Again was sketched in hotel rooms across Europe & North America, ideas punched out on down-time between shows. Open ended and lucid, its formless, dreamy atmospherics touched freely on darker aspects of the psyche. This time round, however, things are a bit more defined.
Midnight Train is a treasure trove of ideas. Indeed, it could well be the album Jorja had waited her entire life to make—aspects of minimalism sparked by a teenager who spent countless hours memorizing Michael Nyman’s seminal film score for The Piano, set against cinematic electronics & swathes of huge, enveloping, classical dynamics.