Friday, February 14, 2014

'Through the Eyes of the Sun' by Belonoga

14 February 2014

The peculiarly beautiful vocal harmonies of Bulgarian choral music gained widespread attention in the UK in 1986 with the release of 'Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares' - a Grammy award winning album of Bulgarian folk songs performed by the Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir. I first encountered this magical sound in 1989 when Kate Bush featured the Trio Bulgarka on her album 'The Sensual World'. The songs 'Deeper Understanding' and 'Rocket's Tail' make gorgeous use of those strange scrunchy Bulgarian harmonies. My favourite example of the Bulgarian vocal sound is the 2003 album 'Bulgarian Soul' in which the classical opera singer Vesselina Kasarova revisits Bulgarian folk songs, backed by the Cosmic Voices from Bulgaria – it's a really beautiful set of songs. More recently I discovered the Eva Quartet – four young singers from the Mystère Des Voix Bulgares choir. This week I have been listening to 'Through the Eyes of the Sun' by Belonoga – a solo project by Eva Quartet member Gergana Dimitrova. This album uses the Bulgarian singing style in a sparse, new-age musical environment, mixing wordless vocals with electronic and acoustic instruments, a variety of percussion and even a didgeridoo! The effect is gentle, laid-back, mysterious and beautiful but I missed the close harmonies of the multi-voice choirs and the tunes are not so immediately catchy as the Bulgarian folk songs featured in the earlier albums. Nevertheless this is an interesting and very different collection of music.

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