Works by Hildur Guðnadóttir, Ola Gjeilo, Luke Howard et al
Decca 485 1626 62:16 mins
VOCES8 were trailblazers in offering outstanding virtual performances from the earliest days of the pandemic. This meditative new disc finds the ensemble exploring new realms yet again, this time reaching for the stars in a space-inspired album. Adapted film scores sit alongside medieval folk songs plus eight new commissions in this luminous recording that showcases the choir’s gorgeous sound and impeccable sense of ensemble.
Highlights of the disc include the haunting ‘Scene Suspended’, a reworking of a piece by electronic artist Jon Hopkins, sung here with mellifluous beauty. Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson’s simple but affecting ‘Heyr himna smiður’ sets a popular 13th-century Icelandic hymn with gentle power, while Nainita Desai’s ‘My Mind is Still’ creates a spellbinding soundworld from voices, solo violin, piano and bowed vibraphone, mixed with fragments of recorded sound from Sputnik (the world’s first artificial satellite, launched in 1957) that twinkle across the musical texture.
The repertoire chosen is strongly cinematic in feel, which is mostly stirring but does occasionally teeter into more clichéd territory. However, any lack of depth in a small handful of the tracks is more than made up for by the poise of the ensemble’s performance. As a whole, this is music to make the spirit soar.