Thursday, August 06, 2009

Alilo, alilo, alilo

Some of the songs sang by Georgian choirs (not to be confused with Gregorian chant) predate the arrival of Christianity in the country. Or so I’ve read; I’d believe you if you told me they predate the big bang, so bottomless does the music sound.

One of the most spectacular gigs I’ve been to was the Rustavi Choir in London a few years ago. So when I was in the Sounds of the Universe shop in Soho a little while ago, I snapped up the 'Polyphonic Voices of Georgia' cd on Soul Jazz Records' new Word Audio Foundation imprint. (You can also hear Georgian singing on Soul Jazz's 'Faith' comp, which twiddles the dial on a world of religious music.)

The WAF cd, sung by the Anchiskhati Choir (me neither), is all religious songs, which means it misses out on the rougher-edged folk tradition - some of the harmonies are sweet and almost western. But it's still lovely. And, being Soul Jazz, they've made an effort - you get funky postcards, proper sleeve notes, and the cd comes in a cool but slightly-annoyingly-larger-than-usual plastic box - a bit like those cases that cassettes sometimes came in. Along with the monochrome cover photo, this gives the impression that the recording is in fact some academic ethnomusicology project from the 60s.

(if you like this sort of thing, Corsican and Sardinian male voice choirs sound similar to my ear.)

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