THE MYSTERY OF THE BULGARIAN VOICES
The Bulgarian Choir meet the Dead Can Dance singer, with mixed results.
The Le Mystère De Voix Bulgares recordings that came out on 4AD in the 80s were compiled by Swiss musicologist Marcel Cellier from recordings of the Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir. They were contemporary choral arrangements of traditional songs, with extraordinary harmonies sung with emotional power. These are new compositions by choral arranger Petar Dundakov – traditions need a little flexibility to stay fresh. Gerrard’s occasional lead vocals blend in well. Mani Yanna starts with beautiful vocal melismas over a background of shifting harmonies. What it doesn’t need is the entrance, after three minutes, of strummed acoustic guitar and percussion, including sounds like tabla and bass synth notes. The original Le Mystère recordings employed percussion sparingly, to accent the metric complexity of some of the songs, and on the animated Pora Sotunda, this approach feels more rhythmically pertinent. But the arrangements, which even include Bulgarian artist SkillR’s beatboxing, feel like an attempt at modernising music that doesn’t need it, while robbing it of its mystère.