Graham Reid | | 1 min read
The opening piece here Kutaisi Mravalzhamieri/Blessings From Kutaisi will doubtless confirm exactly preconceptions about what an all-male choir from Georgia – led by former rugby player Buba Murgulia – would sound like: layered lines of baritone and tenor voices.
But there is also a whimsical quality in the second half which hints at a bit of humour and that should carry you through to what follows . . . which is mostly unexpected.
The ballad Mkholod Shen Erts/Only For You is a lovely song over soft guitar which sounds like a beautiful Samoan piece, you could imagine the lively Sisona Darchia and Kharatia/Goblet sung in Tonga and elsewhere you are into what we might call contemporary a cappella art music of the kind heard in a dance production or on avant-garde labels.
These songs are identified in the excellent booklet with the CD as toasts: to the Lord, the Motherland, Ancestors, Parents, Friendship, Deceased Ones and so on.
And so by turns the moods change as the polyphonic voices err to sadness, sing a lullaby or become celebratory.
Shen Khar Venekhi/You Are The Vineyard written in the 12thcentury is as holy a moment as you can imagine.
And the songs here transport you to church, a feast and a family gathering.
Elsewhere often draws attention to music which is “elsewhere” but, although we use those Pasifika and art music reference points, this album – the title means a tablecloth or colloquially a feast – could come from nowhere else but Georgia, the land legend has it was given to the people by God.
It's a good story and this is a wonderful album . . . which of course will not have wide appeal.
But it is certainly worth hearing and the liner notes offer real insight into the culture which has spawned these songs.
You can hear this album at Spotify here