February 07, 2023

Nightingale Vocal Ensemble: Composition Sped Up

What happens when you put a bunch of classically trained opera singers in a room and set them free to create improvised music on the spot? The Nightingale Vocal Ensemble explores the possibilities of the human voice on their Composition Sped Up album, a collection of a cappela pieces that go through hills and valleys, peruse call-and-response, but first and foremost celebrate foregoing true-and-tried patterns to convey a message, describe a piece of art or tell a tale. No notes, no score, but only setting things up in the studio properly to capture the moment.

Singers Nicholas Ford, Nathan Halbur, Rose Hegele, Barbara Allen Hill, Lysander Jaffe, Benjamin Perry, Juan Suarez and Angela Yam have listened carefully to each other and have created a treasure trove of moods and sounds, with the world's oldest musical instrument - the human voice - taking centre stage. Inspired by the 2021 opera …(Iphigenia) by Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding which ended by a free-for-all vocals only coda they decided that they wanted to take this concept a step further and record a full album. They named it after Shorter's famous quip that "Improvisation is just composition sped up". Some of the tracks are mere snippets (Night Air), while others easily break the ten minute mark without running out of steam. The visuals arts are the main source of inspiration. The pastoral Rosé Wine and the undulating Hot were both inspired by posters drawn Swiss artist Jérôme Bizien.

Composition Sped Up can be a challenge to listen to. Take Block Island Seaweed Study, which is fiercely atonal and that will put many people off. Persist and it turns into a transcedent experience. Sci-Fi fans will love Space Triptych, where choral elements are wrapped in the sounds of the BBC Radioponic Workshop (all done by voices of course) and launched into the void to an undisclosed destination. It is best to enjoy the ride and be pleasantly surprised as well as thoroughly impressed by this free-flowing excursions through uncharted territories.

Composition Sped Up is a self-released album. Buy it from their website.

  1. Ben's Warmup (Prologue)
  2. Night Air
  3. Rosé Wine
  4. Hot
  5. Face on the Wall
  6. Green Leaves
  7. Block Island Seaweed Study
  8. Space Triptych
  9. The Gray
  10. Notes on Danube

» nightingalevocalensemble.com

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