Zavesata Pada (The Curtain Falls) - Bulgarian Women's Choir, Jobson, Eddie
What makes this recording so special is that it's the choir's first opportunity to showcase their virtuoso vocals in a finely recorded setting where solos rebound in sorrowful echoes and the ethereal power of the 20 women ... more »resounds. The new songs from Eddie Jobson melt into the Bulgarian folk tradition seamlessly and though a complex melancholy permeates the album, Voices of Life ends up being just what its title says. --Karen K. Hugg« less
What makes this recording so special is that it's the choir's first opportunity to showcase their virtuoso vocals in a finely recorded setting where solos rebound in sorrowful echoes and the ethereal power of the 20 women resounds. The new songs from Eddie Jobson melt into the Bulgarian folk tradition seamlessly and though a complex melancholy permeates the album, Voices of Life ends up being just what its title says. --Karen K. Hugg
Stunning, instantly-accessible beauty.
Stephen Foster | Seattle, WA United States, via Scotland | 02/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some of the most beautiful, haunting sounds ever made. The first two "Mysteres Des Voix Bulgares" albums were very poorly recorded, to the point where it interfered with enjoyment of the music, but this recording is quiet and transparent as crystal. There is still far too little of the vast Bulgarian repertoire available in the West, so it is somewhat a shame that they chose here to re-record several of the same songs from the first two albums. However, it still richly deserves its five stars. If you don't have the first two "Mystere" albums (or the out-of-print and surprisingly poor third album), this is certainly the one to start the re-education of your ears -- they will eternally thank you."
Some world music crossover gimmickry, and what's more authen
Christopher Culver | 04/30/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"When recordings of the Bulgarian State Television and Radio Female Vocal choir reached the West in the late 1980s under the name "Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares", a fad was sparked by the enchanting voices of some twenty women. Sure, this was not authentic folk music, but rather polished Communist-era arrangements, but the unusual singing techniques and strangely sexy dissonances was a pleasant surprise to music listeners abroad. The Bulgarian Women's Choir Angelite ("The Angels") continues this style of Bulgarian music for Western ears, and their album VOICES OF LIFE is mainly a series of Voix Bulgares staples. Three tracks (1, 3, and 6), however, have a different provenance, for former Yes performer Eddie Jobson worked with Angelite toward some material for a future album, and some of the results are here.
Much of the more traditional material here has been recorded elsewhere, and usually with better performance and/or production. "Polegnala e Todora", the faux folksong written by Philip and Maria Koutev, has strange reverb which was probably meant to give the song a more ethereal feel, but really just dilutes the power of the voices. "Pilentze Pee" is played at a much more languid pace than the legendary version on "Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares", with unexciting results. The one track I was happy with here is "Begala e Vena", which contains some thrilling vocal effects reminiscent of "Djore dos" from the "Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares Vol. 2". The three Jobson tracks are simply horrible, and totally incongruent with the rest of the album. Essentially, they are long, meandering synthesizer works with the Bulgarian vocals and instrumentation overlayed. "Nov Den" would have worked great had it consisted only of choir and gaida, but the cheesy keyboard playing ruins it all. On "Utopia", the Bulgarian singers are so low in the mix that even that part of the performance is difficult to enjoy.
If you enjoyed "Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares", and I imagine most people considering this album do, do yourself and the Bulgarian musical tradition a favour and begin seeking out more authentic folk music recordings. Nonesuch has two, one a Communist-era work that is closer to the real folk tradition, and the other a thrilling set of ethnomusicological gatherings. The lesser production on VOICES OF LIFE is disappointing, and the modern cross-over gimmickry of the Jobson tracks is culturally vacuous."
From Bulgaria with Orpheus's Touch
ManOfPrecision | Lowers Bucks County, Pennsylvania | 02/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a CD? I was exploring deeper into other cultures when I came across this CD newly placed on the shelf. I remembered Bulgarian music as one of the most unique. After listening, I felt as if I had no need to acculturate myself with the Bulgarian culture any further. The music comes from the ancient land of Thrace, where the mythical musician Orpheus was said to have originated. This has been the first foreign adventure into cultural music since 2001 and I have found a new addition to foreign music. The women's choir has the ability to bring a chilling mood to its listeners evoking the world of color, beauty, harmony, and religion. A song such as Polegnala E Toudora has the ability to sooth its listeners as well as other tracks. This music comes from Bulgaria with the touch of Orpheus; thus, nothing negative can come about of this music."
Annaleise Ferreira | Marina, California ,United States | 11/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Voices of Life isn't my favorite Bulgarian cd, but it is very nice and a good place to start if you're new. I have the first two Mysterie De Bulgares albums and I prefer their versions of Polegnala E Toudora, Pilentze Pee and Kalimanko Denko. However, there are some great songs on this album, my favorites being the surreal Utopia and Sestro Dobriano. "
Ronald H. Parry | University Place, WA United States | 08/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mr Culver's review is certainly opinionated (and unfortunately expressed as fact) with respect to the producton of 'Voices of Life'. If he truly was up on his facts he'd know that Eddie Jobson didn't produce anything by Yes, but rather he is foremost a talented multi-genre violinist and keyboardist (UK, Roxy Music) as well as producer; but not for Yes. Eddie Offord was Yes' producer of choice for a time. Fine production values do not lessen or dilute this performance. In particular, the version of Polegnala E Toudora presented on this work is wonderfully emotional, and I feel the ambient quality of the recording enhances the experience. Some other recordings I've heard of this song sound a bit flat by comparison. Perhaps a 'purist' would differ, but this is a finely compiled work that I keep going back to."