THE MYS­TERY OF THE BULGARIAN VOICES

The Bulgarian Choir meet the Dead Can Dance singer, with mixed re­sults.

Prog - - The Musical Box - MB

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.

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