Paul Smith

Reflections

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AllMusic Review by

The image for this release gives you little indication of what's going on, but you can plunge in and sample most of the tracks for an idea. The materials draw on medieval music, the Baroque, folk song, and more, but all of the pieces feature some kind of monophonic melody, accompanied by drones or choruses of various kinds. Paul Smith, a composer and the director of the ensemble Voces8, created and arranged all the music on the album. The publicity connected with the release mentions Smith's world travels and his recordings of singing by 2,500 performers (apparently including a 700-voice Belgian choir) and audience members along the way. You can hear the influences from Japan, Africa, and elsewhere (sample the traditional Edo Lullaby), but the 2,500 singers actually play only a small role in the sound. Most of what you hear is from the three vocal groups involved -- Voces8, the VCM Foundation Choir, and Apollo5 -- and the larger group of singers seems to be heard mostly in small background samples. The music is a mixture of electronic and acoustic elements, and of precomposed sounds and notation. Tempi and texture are relatively unchanging, but within this context there are fresh sounds, and Smith gets credit for making something new out of the basic pop musical mysticism genre. Recommended for those who like the vibe.

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