«These voices are like no choir you ever heard.» Richard Williams writes in his liner notes for Rooms & Rituals. «They can form pale clouds of sound, or pools of glowing light, or bright shafts of pure sound.»
As they move around the performance space, the singers wear small wireless boxes featuring controls that enable each one to modify her voice through the manipulation of effects that include reverb, delay, pitch-shift and looping. These boxes are called Maccatrols, developed and designed exclusively for the ensemble by sound designers Asle Karstad and Arnvid Lau Karstad. The voices are the sole sound source and, as unlikely as it sometimes sounds, everything the audience hears is created in real time. The organic and the technological elements combine to make something genuinely innovative.
A constant state of discovery
This album consists of pieces taken from several performances, including one at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin in 2017. «As the director of Jazzfest Berlin, it was my privilege to introduce them to an audience that quickly fell under the spell of their quietly dramatic combination of musical and theatrical elements.» Richard Williams writes in the liner notes for the album. «It was a performance that made full use of the meditative atmosphere created by the modernist church’s hexagonal space, its stained-glass windows and its special acoustical properties.» Two pieces here are from that concert, one of them (“Hymn") featuring a Norwegian folk song against a backdrop that shows what strikingly sensitive, original and emotionally resonant effects the singers and their sound designer can create from apparently simple materials. For both the singers and their audience, this is music in a constant state of discovery.