In the Danish band Choir of Young Believers, there are many singers. Half of the near-dozen members on This Is for the White in Your Eyes (Tigerspring), the group’s European debut album, contribute backing vocals. But there is only one Voice: founding songwriter Jannis Noya Makrigiannis, who manages to sound utterly alone ”“ singing in […]
In the Danish band Choir of Young Believers, there are many singers. Half of the near-dozen members on This Is for the White in Your Eyes (Tigerspring), the group’s European debut album, contribute backing vocals. But there is only one Voice: founding songwriter Jannis Noya Makrigiannis, who manages to sound utterly alone ”“ singing in cold echo with the high, keening melancholy of the Zombies’ Colin Blunstone and the Neil Young of ”˜A Man Needs a Maid’ ”“ amid his slow-motion army of guitars, piano, strings and brass. During a recent show at the Spot Festival in Aarhus, Denmark, the Choir seemed to play without moving, like a studio-orchestra version of Arcade Fire; for showcraft, Makrigiannis would tip his head back, as if he was throwing high notes to the ceiling. But the movement that mattered was in the songs ”“ the magnetic creep of the strings and the wordless-vocal fall in ”˜These Rituals of Mine; the subversive rapture of the chorus in ”˜Next Summer’; the tundra-reverb harmonies glazing the hip-hop gait of ”˜Action/Reaction.’ It was like hearing Radiohead’s Thom Yorke in the middle of a Sixties Roy Orbison single, an effect Makrigiannis repeatedly achieves on the album, which is released here by Ghostly International on August 18th. Let the buzz begin.
The Soft Machinist
Bassist Hugh Hopper ”“ who died on June 7 in England at age 64 ”“ was a quietly central figure in British progressive rock: a member of Sixties Canterbury legends the Wilde Flowers and a roadie for Soft Machine, before joining them as a member in 1968, just as the Softs’ dadaistic rock mutated into an original fusion of jazz freedom and rock force, pivotally on the 1970 double LP Third and 1971’s Fourth (both Columbia U.K.). Hopper’s sound was brutally distinctive; he used a scouring fuzz tone. But he was an anchoring player, emphasizing rhythmic integration and soloing with decisive vigor on the archival CDs Noisette, from a 1970 show, and Virtually, a ’71 concert (both Cuneiform). Hopper ”“ who played with leading fusion bands after leaving the Softs in 1973 ”“ composed with the same discipline and striking results. Hopper wrote Softs blowouts like ”˜Facelift’ and ”˜Kings and Queens’; he was also a fine balladeer. ”˜Memories,’ cut as a Softs demo in 1967, and 1968’s ”˜A Certain Kind,’ sung by drummer Robert Wyatt with grainy poignancy, are among psychedelia’s greatest heartbreakers.
A Pair of dB’s
Singing into one mike, Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey, vocal-guitar pillars of Dixie power-pop icons the dB’s, cut through the bland sound at a recent New York show with the silver-blade harmonising of their obvious idols Big Star and the Everly Brothers. On the fine Here and Now (Bar/None), Holsapple and Stamey give those sources fresh life with poignant writing (”˜Broken Record,’ the title song) and bracing jangle (”˜Widescreen World’). Their great live cover that night of the 1968 Everlys B side ”˜Lord of the Manor’ is not on the CD, but you get a warm return to the 1972 Family song ”˜My Friend the Sun.’