(Cuneiform)

Bass baritone Oral Moses is one of the most renowned singers of operas, oratorios and spirituals. Birdsongs are one of my all-time favourite new progressive-chamber rock ensembles. And – get this – I prevalently HATE opera, especially when it’s sung in Italian (but, while we’re at it, I also consider John Adams’ “Nixon in China” one of the most horrible records that I’ve ever heard). So I was prepared for the worst, but…how can one doubt artists at this level of heart, intelligence and technique? Moses’ voice is imposing and always perfect, and Ken Field, Michael Bierylo, Erik Lindgren and Rick Scott managed to father a series of arrangements for twelve famous (or less) spirituals that, at times, left my mouth agape. Try to get the correct picture here: we’re talking about songs like “Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho” and “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” played by a quartet that morphed them into their technologically advanced versions by cross-pollinating Igor Stravinsky and Univers Zero, yet sounding unquestionably Mesozoic. On top of all this, a gorgeous lyrical singer lays powerfully articulate lines, which at a first try might sound slightly strange but after a while you really need them – and how. “Extreme spirituals” is one of those records that take about ten minutes before you completely fall into their arms; it is a splendid rendition of music that is already ageless and – after the “Birdsongs extreme makeover” – is likely to become even more valued, maybe also by those who don’t like spirituals. I call it a perfectly accomplished experiment, and you’d better give it a very attentive listen.

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