Pleasant listening music

Issue 

Pleasant listening music

Black Wings on the Sun
By Isabella A Cappella
Larrikin Records

Wetlands Acoustic
By Sirocco
EMI
Reviewed by Carla Gorton

Black Wings on the Sun is the first release from Lismore's Southern Cross University eight-voice unaccompanied choral ensemble, directed by Isabella Atcheson, the university's music lecturer.

"Black Wings on the Sun" certainly deserves the spot as title track on this CD however much of the material, while beautifully arranged and recorded, lacks the spirit that makes a capella.

A capella allows for much greater exploration of the richness of the voice than what this selection provides. "De Puta y Taco", a Chilean folk song is the only track which comes close to exploring some of this range. Maybe it is just my aversion to some of the more nationalistic "Aussie" tracks which make up this collection, but in the end, the sound is a bit too choral with not enough depth and soul.

Last September Sirocco performed "The Wetlands Suite: a celebration of the Macquarie Marshes" on a raft-like stage in the Macquarie Marshes in north-west New South Wales.

I picked up the album Wetlands Suite as I was interested to listen to something from the new-age "ambient" music genre. Sirocco is saved from the fate of banal synthetised music by its strong percussion base. The kaval (a bamboo flute), ud (a Middle Eastern flute) and a bombade (a shrill wooden instrument) also enhance the arrangements. In fact one wonders if the band really needs the synthetiser at all.

The overall musical effect and variety of styles makes for pleasant, though not very exciting, listening. I did however, particularly like the four tracks entitled "Garden of Rivers" which adapted musical styles and sounds originating from the Middle East.