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Songspin/Juice vocal ensemble/Non classical
I opened this slickly packaged CD with some trepidation, as I really didn’t want to hear the female 3 tenors or the winners of "England’s Got Talent". I was not disappointed but nor was I completely elated as the CD, though delightful in parts, slightly cancels its many strengths taken as a whole.
First of all, ‘Juice’ is an excellent Brit female a cappella trio consisting of Kerry Andrews, Anna Snow, and Sarah Dacey, (which seems to also be partially under the musical co-direction of Gabriel Prokofiev). The singing itself is the high point – despite a few bumps in the road, full of incredible intonation, crisp rhythms, strong attacks, and a lot of really beautiful sounding voices. Their musical material is a real po-mo mix of pop, minimalism, renaissance hocketing, chromatic madrigals, jazz, 18th C. counterpoint, Negro spirituals and avant-garde vocal sound effects. Often all these styles are squeezed into one song, mostly in the 4:00 range and are perfect for marketing for a classical commuter radio show (a real plus). But the succinctness of the material is both a blessing and a curse—the curse being there is not a substantive length of music or weighty composer to really sink one’s teeth into. It would be great if there were one or two pieces that used all these diverse singing styles as a structural component in a longer piece.
As for the recording, it’s excellent. Most of it is very closed miked with added reverb to really enhance the intimacy of the ensemble. Occasionally Prokofiev plays with the reverb (sometimes very dry) to enhance the mood (that’s a weird sentence to have the name Prokofiev!!!). Sometimes, there is the odd bumped mike stand, pop through the windscreen and some bad edit pops, and questionably panning choices, but this is normal given how exposed the singers are (I also don’t know, if I would keep the first breath of every song—nit-picky reviewer).
In contrast, the second part of the CD is all remixes of the first part using the singing for percussive effects and it is all done very effectively. The remixes are very tasty---a fine tension between pop electronica and more traditional classical electro-acoustic music. There’s no smarmy house music here. But my feeling is the second half makes it two distinctive CDs, the amazing remixes cancelling out the delicate intimacy of the a cappella singing. Am I being too narrow-minded? Probably. Believe me I like both halves but I have a real problem putting them together. Music is about marketing a product that distinguishes itself in some narrow way from the competition. I would hate to see the young, talented people on this CD not bring more focus to their endeavors and perhaps finding a way to integrate these approaches and reach a really large audience. At that point, I’d have no problem if they won "England’s Got Talent". If you are easier going than this reviewer and love a cappella singing and/or remixes of cappella singing, get this CD!more....
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