Saturday, February 02, 2008

Gender Discrimination Week: Anonymous 4

As with their earlier Christmas celebration, On Yoolis Night, the quartet ethereally blends their seamless, unaccompanied vocals in this collection of chants, hymns, and readings recounting the saint's life and miracles on behalf of those in need. In addition to Latin settings, the program includes one of the oldest known English-language hymns ("Sainte nicholaes," by a contemporary of Hildegard) and a number of verse-refrain pieces thought to inspire dancing in church. Most of the musical material involves simple unilinear trails of chant, which the ensemble spins out with their trademark unanimous purity of tone. Elsewhere, as in the spiraling eddies of "Novus presul prodiit," their suave harmonies glint like a sudden shaft of light through stained glass. And it is all captured in a warm, ambient church acoustic that is balm for modern ears. [from Amazon. This refers to disc 1 of the box set, but the description of the quality applies to all the material.]

I have a few other Anonymous 4 records, but I want to put this up Noel box set, which groups 4 previously released albums, because I meant to do so before Christmas of last year but didn't get a chance to, and because it's tough to get online. There are copies available, but they're these wacky CUE & APE file things that, while supposedly stunning in their quality, drive me crazy because you hafta download a dozen different programs to convert them to mp3s. Bitching aside, a huge, sincere thanks to whoever originally uploaded this file. They included scans of the booklet in addition to providing high quality files, and I've included them here.

I hope you do enjoy it, because these ladies consistently deliver and are one of the most popular early music groups out there. (Though I hesitate to recommend their album Gloryland, because, frankly, one of my favorite songs ever is "Wayfaring Stranger" and they don't pull it off. I don't think their sound is suitable for the songs.) But their polyphony/chant stuff is gorgeous, so give this a try if that's your thing!

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