Another church album? What could be so good about that? Well, quite a lot, as it happens. Apart from a superb choir with full, majestic cathedral reverb (of course) the music is marvellously, subtly different. Armenia is very close to the crossroads of Europe and the Middle East and its Orthodox Church music has absorbed elements of both. Listen, for instance, to the soprano on "Cherubic Hymn" or "Amen, Holy Father"; that vocal ornamentation comes directly from Arab classical music, giving an exotic, almost alien feel of church music refracted through a prism. Indeed, at times the tenor on "Spiritual Dialogue" seems to recall the wail of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer more than a priest and his flock. There's a crisp purity to the singing throughout, but it's the completely unselfconscious mix of cultures that truly sets this apart, and helps make it an intensely spiritual experience.
By Wondering Sound Staff on 12.11.14 in Features
Five music critics discuss the best, worst, and most significant moments in Latin music this year.
By Michaelangelo Matos on 12.08.14 in Reviews
For all the quality mining of African oldies over three and a half decades, it's not as if the coffers have been exhausted. Far from it, especially judging from this nonstop display of one of the great bands of the Congo...
By Claire Lobenfeld on 11.29.14 in News
Spice, Jamaica's queen of dancehall, is gearing up to release her debut EP So Mi Like It. With her contribution to Vybz Kartel's "Rampin Shop," another bananas collab between the two called "Conjugal Visit" and her most...
By John Schaefer on 11.24.14 in Reviews
In this 50th-anniversary romp through Terry Riley's In C, a brilliant ensemble of Malian musicians (mostly playing traditional instruments) joins forces with Damon Albarn, the globetrotting frontman of Blur and Gorillaz;...