Monday, 22 July 2019

Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares – Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares (1986)

Style: Folk
Format: CD Vinyl
Label: 4AD, Disques Cellier, Nonesuch

01.   Pilentze Pee (Pilentze Sings)
02.   Svatba (The Wedding)
03.   Kalimankou Denkou (The Evening Gathering)
04.   Strati Na Angelaki Doumasche (Haiduk Chant)
05.   Polegnala E Pschenitza (Harvest Chant From Thrace)
06.   Messetschinko Lio Greilivko (Love Chant From The Rhodopes)
07.   Breii Yvane (Dancing Song)
08.   Erghen Diado (Song Of Schopsko With Tapan And Spoons)
09.   Sableyalo Mi Agontze (The Bleating Lamb)
10.   Pritouritze Planinata (Chant From The Thracian Plain With Orchestra)
11.   Mir Stanke Le (Harvest Chant From Thrace)
12.   Schopska Pesen (Diaphonic Chant)
13.   Polegnala E Todora (Love Chant)

Choir – The Bulgarian State Radio And Television Female Vocal Choir
Directed By – Philip Koutev, Krasimir Kyurkchiyski
Mastered By – Robert C. Ludwig
Recorded By – Marcel Cellier

In the late 1980s, the cult record label home to spiky guitar bands like Bauhaus and Pixies suddenly signed a choir of Bulgarian women in traditional national costume. 4AD boss Ivo Watts-Russell had become entranced by the former Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir (est. 1952). Now, over 20 years after their albums were bought by bemused Cocteau Twins fans, Le Mystère's international following includes Abba and Kate Bush. 
The fascination concerns one of the most unique sounds in music: multi-part a capella arrangements delivered by up to 19 women. The "mystery" is in just how they combine diaphonic singing and dissonant harmonies to produce a breathtaking, otherworldly sound somewhere between the Muslim call to prayer and the Beach Boys. With any two voices sounding like 20 and another lady "conducting", they are an orchestra of voice. 
Their renditions of old Bulgarian folk songs about harvests, illness and God are tear-jerking, emotional and profound, but delivered with smiling faces and unexpected humour. Their costumes and headgear are so knowingly over the top, you half-expect Borat to tumble on stage clutching a hen. It's somehow reassuring to discover that the supernatural voices occasionally tackle such ethereal concerns as Galabi Goukat ("Pigeons are cooing"). Occasionally, they break off into titters or end a song with an exaggerated "Yeeeeeeeee!" 
Returning in the sort of gowns worn by Celine Dion, with big hair, they push their voices even further. A section titled "Comic songs" sounds like a giant barbershop quartet. Listni Se Goro, with an astonishing soloist, is particularly jawdropping. Then they take a collective bow and each gives a little wave goodbye, having provided an aural experience that, once heard, will never be forgotten. 
Dave Simpson / The Guardian