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Valby Vokalgruppe: Bah New Era

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Valby Vokalgruppe is another band of the musicians, an art collective from the Danish label Eget Værelse (A Room of One's Own, inspired by famous writer Virginia Woolf) and home to other genre-binding bands like Selvhenter. And, indeed, this Danish vocal ensemble, with its core of four female singers, is led by Selvhenter drummer Anja Jacobsen, and also hosts two other members from the band.

Jacobsen founded this ensemble in 2008 as a vehicle to explore voice and multiple voices, later on adding keyboards, effect pedals and percussion. This full-length debut, after its De Syv Mundes Fest EP (Eget Værelse, 2010), places Valby Vokalgruppe as drawing inspiration from the minimalism of Meredith Monk's vocal ensembles and the vocal-plus-electronics experimentation of Maja S.K. Ratkje, spicing these influences with vintage synthesizers, odd time signatures and childish, game-like phrases.

From the opening "Hændelseshorisont," it is clear that this is not a typical vocal group. The cacophonic, world-less vocals are rarely in harmony, and eventually drown in a storm of noises, mechanical beats and vintage analog synthesizer sounds. The same approach is used on "Bah (Opsendelse)" and "Bah (Landing)," where, on its first segment, the collective chanting of the bah mantra is sampled, processed and mutated into a noisy loop and on the second, the vocals collide in a complete cacophony. On "Regnbuen," the keyboards begin with an imitation of an African rhythm, later abstracted gently by the vocalists.

Other compositions stress the vocal qualities of the ensemble. "The Master" sounds as a humble tribute to minimalist composer Steve Reich, while "Newana Le Tenore" is a touching, playful choral with African touches. "Dawning, The Valley" begins with soft and warm voices, encompassed by haunting keyboards, but than transformed into sampled, broken voices, mixed into a mechanical, dance groove. "The Secret Wife" and "We Came Through" resemble 1980s, left-of-center pop songs with their vintage synthesizers and infectious choruses. "Internettet" features the ensemble in a surprisingly dreamy, meditative mode

Bah New Era is a very beautiful album in its own strange, surprising and challenging way.

Track Listing: Hændelseshorisont; The Master; Bah (Opsendelse); Newana Le Tenore; Dawning, The Valley; Regnbuen; The Secret Wife; We Came Through; Efter Internettet; Bah (Landing).

Personnel: Lil Lacy: voice, keyboard; Cæcilie Trier: voice, keyboard; Sonja Labianca: voice, keyboard, saxophone; Anja Jacobsen: voice, keyboard, percussion; Jaleh Negari: voice, keyboard (2, 7); Oliver Hoiness: guitar (1, 8); Toke Tietze Mortense: treatment (10).

Title: Bah New Era | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Eget Værelse


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