Reviews

Various Artists
Future Chorus

(Hypermedium / MAENADS)

6/10

Curated by Royal College of Art researcher Eleni Ikoniadou, Future Chorus is an ambitious vocal-led project, aiming for nothing less than “a new voice speaking a nonhuman language”. In pursuit of this, Ikoniadou has compiled a range of non-verbal vocal sounds, alongside spoken word, cello and other timbres, and run them through a process of machine learning to create something uncanny and distinct. That material was then handed to a diverse group of artists – including Lafawndah, AGF, Harrga, Trustfall, Chino Amobi and Savvas Metaxas – to remix and rework as they saw fit.

The result is, perhaps unsurprisingly, unsettling and unknowable, each track diverging in style but overlapping in dissonance and abrasion. Its strongest moments are arguably its subtlest; for example, Harrga’s ‘En Nouts Vivants Les Morts’ is teeming with intricate detail, and when its arch spoken-word lead pauses for breath, we’re able to sink further into its shadowy depths. It’s not that the clear vocal is a problem as such; but on a record that seeks to push vocal textures into new territories, it’s nice to be able to look past the more familiar delivery and deeper into the new soil being tilled somewhere beneath. Future Chorus is full of these brief, set-back passages of richness and beauty, oases of harmonic light between the discordant murk and (sometimes overly) earnest readings. Best of all is the unheimlich openness of the final track’s final section, Savvas Metaxas closing the record with an expanse of glitched whispers and jittering strings which sound like rumours from the future. Quite whether Future Chorus achieves its stated aims is unclear, but either way, there’s much to be gained from this project.

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