|Choir of Young Believers — Grasque (2016)|
Choir of Young Believers — Grasque (2016)
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Record Label: Ghostly International
02 Serious Lover
04 Face Melting
06 Jeg Ser Dig
07 Cloud Nine
08 The Whirlpool Enigma
09 Perfect Estocada
11 Gamma Moth
12 Does It Look As If I Care
• Jannis Noya Makrigiannis
• Jannis Noya Makrigiannis: vocals, guitar, piano, bass, keyboard, percussion
• Cæcilie Trier: cello, backing vocals
• Jakob Millung: bass
• Bo Rande: brass instruments, keyboard, backing vocals
• Sonja Labianca: piano
• Lasse Herbst: percussion
• Casper Henning Hansen: drums, percussion
• Mette Sand Hersoug: violin, flute, backing vocals (until 2008)
• Fridolin: bass, drums, percussion, trumpet, flute, keyboard, backing vocals (until 2008)
• Nicolai Koch: piano (until 2008)
• Frederik Nordsø: percussion (until 2008)
• Anders Rhedin: keyboard, drums, guitar, percussion, backing vocals (until 2008)Review
By Cody Ray Shafer; Score: 8
• Choir of Young Believer’s third record, Grasque, began life as another project entirely. Frontman Jannis Noya Makrigiannis originally imagined the album as a new side–project, but changed his mind somewhere along the way. He kept the new project’s band name, Grasque, and took Choir back to its roots as a mainly solo effort. This is only relevant because, on its face, Grasque is a hazy and beautiful mix of mismatched ideas. And that’s only part of what makes it such a fantastic listen.
• Grasque is an immediate improvement on Makrigiannis’ previous outputs. And I don’t mean that it’s simply better, but rather that it uses the sonic fundamentals of 2012’s Rhine Gold–epic orchestration layered underneath melancholy vocals and a vast, spacious quality–and just adds a sexy pop structure, while also diving headfirst into brand–new experimental territory.
• “Serious Lover” is a dim–the–lights jam, but washed with distinct Danish pop flare. But rather than maintain such a simplistic approach, Grasque follows up with a delightfully weird “Face Melting,” a nearly–ambient experience grounded by a light electronic beat. “Jeg Ser Dig,” on the other hand, is beautifully heady pop, casting a wide net of musical influences and solidifying them into a singular sound. There are so many great tracks here, such as “Cloud Nine,” which achieves all of the lofty ambition this album has to offer, yet surprises a listener with an intimacy in the last third. Refreshingly, Grasque is never redundant. It is pop without clichés, and avant–garde without boredom.
• Makrigiannis’ contribution to pop music is certainly underappreciated, but creatively rivaled by artists like Brian Eno and Scott Walker. Big, complicated ideas are understandably hard to execute, but Grasque is a serious exploration of the deepest reaches of pop music. But it is the gracefulness of those explorations that rival even Rhine Gold, a feat that shouldn’t even be possible, but Grasque pulls it off without missing a single note. • http://www.undertheradarmag.com/
By Natasha Aftandilians; February 10th 2016; Score: 5/10
Press: US: email@example.com
• When listening to Denmark’s Choir of Young Believers, it’s hard not to imagine an army of white–clad singers with arms outstretched, their voices raised in holy polyphony — in fact, the Danish group is the brainchild of Jannis Noya Makrigiannis. For years, Jannis moved in the underground circles of the Copenhagen indie scene. In 2006, he moved to the Greek island of Samos and began developing his own solo material. Jannis returned to Copenhagen and, gathering musicians and friends around him, formed Choir of Young Believers, an orchestral–pop project marked by magisterial melodies, dark lyrical concerns, and a healthy dose of cathedral–grade reverb.
• The songs on Choir of Young Believers’ 2008 debut album THIS IS FOR THE WHITE IN YOUR EYES mixed modest folk arrangements with ambitious, grandiose indie pop, cooled with a stoic Nordic distance and glowing with an inner light. On their upcoming 2012 album RHINE GOLD, Choir expands on their debut in every way. Now a proper band, the collaborative dynamic has imbued their sound with more authority and daring, as Choir inhabits a wholly unique space where intimate folk, classic Krautrock, big–sky Americana, avant–garde composition and bombastic theatricality seamlessly serve the same master.
• Live, the band takes many different shapes and sizes. Jannis often performs as a duo with a guitar or a piano and cello; other times, up to eight people fill the stage, playing everything from strings and horns to percussion and bells. The one constant is Jannis’ voice: clear, mournful, stretching to the heavens.
• It was the end of 2013 and Jannis Noya Makrigiannis, the frontman and principal persona behind Choir of Young Believers, was worn out. He’d been touring the band’s last record — the haunting Rhine Gold, for the better part of a year and, when it was over, he felt confused, adrift and didn’t feel like playing music. He was doubting the future of the band. The way he coped was to detach. He postponed writing in favor of traveling, deciding that instead of diving back into the creation of another record, he would allow himself to move in whatever direction he desired. His impulses guided his decisions; he wasn’t feeling very inspired by the guitar or the piano, so he started to fiddle around with a small pocket sampler his mother got him for Christmas, using it to make small soundscapes, beats and collages.
• Those early experiments became the building blocks for Grasque, from the warped, weird choral vocals that open “Serious Lover” to breezey, breathy R&B of “Jeg Ser Dig,” on which he sounds like a Scandinavian Sade. The record pulls in a host of unlikely influences: smoky jazz on the noirish “The Whirlpool Enigma” twinkling pop on “Gamma Moth” and sun–bathed soul on “Cloud Nine.” It’s not so much a reinvention as a redirection, maintaining all of the group’s essential elements but setting them within a new context.
• Much of that is because, when Makrigiannis started the project, it wasn’t meant to be a new COYB record. Having been inspired by everything from experimental electronic music to Danish ‘80s and ‘90s pop, to modern hip–hop and R&B to techno and westcoast slow jams, he’d made a new, imaginary band in his head called Grasque to reflect those influences. He quickly recorded both “Graske” and “Face Melting” with Aske Zidore, who had also produced Rhine Gold, and when Choir of Young Believers reconvened to tour with Depeche Mode, he wrote a few guitar–based songs to play live. Gradually, he realized all of his new ideas and music could melt together with Choir of Young Believers. A couple of months later, he and Aske went to a small Swedish farm for a week and came back with more than 10 hours of new music.
• The result is an album that is confident and expansive, incorporating an encyclopedia of styles while still maintaining the essential elements of Choir of Young Believers’ DNA. It’s pop music, put through a kaleidoscopic filter. “I must admit, one of the things I worried about was ‘What will people think?’” Makrigiannis says. “With almost all of these songs, I had been in doubt. Some, I felt, were too poppy, others too experimental — some didn’t even feel like songs, but more like trips, or feelings. Some even had Danish and Greek lyrics. But now, it’s all Choir of Young Believers to me, and it feels great to have pushed the walls around the band, giving it a bit more space. It’s weird for me to think about all that doubt — “Could I do this? Could I do that? I mean, it’s my fucking band. I can do what I want with it. Right?”
|Choir of Young Believers — Grasque (2016)|