Tue Sep 2 2008
Photograph: Fabio Gamba/phocus agency
The Stone; Tue 9
Music made up entirely of vocal sounds is almost certainly the oldest in human history. From Renaissance madrigals to gospel quartets and the Balinese Monkey Chant, the variety is staggering. This earliest of forms got a boost around 1950, when multitrack technology allowed one singer to record all the parts; a new aesthetic blossomed among artists as disparate as Patti Page and Brian Wilson. Finally, the advent of digital sampling and looping technology enabled one singer to perform all parts and to do so live, which brings us to Italy’s Boris Savoldelli.
Savoldelli’s avowed influences take in Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, Bobby McFerrin and Demetrio Stratos (of semilegendary Italian prog band Area). On Insanology, his 2007 CD, Savoldelli evokes the Beach Boys on the title track, covers Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic” and leaves the pop realm behind in the harmonically dense “In the Seventh Year.” The closing song, “Io,” bounces fragments of chords and melody back and forth between voices, in a manner reminiscent of hocketing, a medieval technique. If all this sounds frantically eclectic, it is—but in a way that recalls Carl Stalling’s jump-cut compositional style for Warner Bros. cartoon soundtracks. Savoldelli’s methods of layering and juxtaposition provide a stylistic unity even as he draws on disparate genres.
This New York performance includes guitarist Elliott Sharp, whose aesthetic is every bit as wide-ranging as Savoldelli’s. The Stone will provide a relatively austere setting for what promises to be a technically dazzling, musically engaging show.