Moving from the Signum label to the major Decca, the British choir Voces8, indeed an octet, breaks into new territory with its debut release for the Lux label. The album, with its vaguely positive theme and its mix of Renaissance, contemporary British and American, and pop selections, is aimed squarely at Britain's substantial crossover market. But it departs from earlier easy-on-the-ears collections in several ways, and it's worth the time of anyone who likes virtuoso choral singing. Voces8 not only takes on the difficult octet vocal blend, they spice things up by using a pair of countertenors on the alto parts (this Lux shares with the group's earlier recordings). The shimmering effects that result are quite impressively controlled and even more significantly beautifully engineered in a pair of locations. Choirs have sung arrangements of the likes of Massive Attack and Ben Folds before, but it's not often that choral singing of this quality has been applied to them. The whole thing is so beautiful that the pieces of music do run the risk of seeming to run together, and an hour of pleasant aural surroundings may be what's on the mind of many buyers. But this release offers something a step above the basics.
by James Manheim
|All-night Vigil, Op. 37|