– THE PEACEFUL PROTEST –
The X Factor has got a lot to answer for. And no, I’m not talking about that horrible Simon Cowell-in the North Pole advert that’s on telly at the moment (or anything to do with Simon Cowell, frankly). Nor am I talking about Honey G (remember her? No, probably not). I’m not even talking about the decades of sappy, vapid, vomit-inducing Christmas Number Ones.
OK, I am talking about all of those things a little bit.
But more than that, the X Factor should feel ashamed for the way it’s homogenised and limited the scope of what the human voice can do within the popular consciousness.
As Madison McFerrin proves with her exclusively a cappella music, the human voice is the most versatile, most emotive, most awesome instrument available to us.
On No Time to Lose, she constructs almost an entire track from her own (with some help from a bit of hand-clapping but while the likes of Rahzel have created hip-hop with his and Bjork famously created the otherworldly electronic / ambient soundscapes on Medulla with hers, everything on McFerrin’s tracks bristles with warmth and humanity.
This is not the voice imitating instruments (a la beatboxing) to replace them; this is using melodies, harmonies and non-vocal sounds to create more humanity.
The effect is a track that brings the swing of McFerrin’s Grammy-winning jazz vocalist father Bobby while also creating a meditative effect upon extended listens.
McFerrin has a new release out today (Finding Foundations: The Remixes) but, in something of a break from tradition, I’m not going to suggest you go listen to it because, as each track has been remixed they all include other instrumentation which detracts, in my view, from McFerrin’s USP. Rather, I recommend that you use No Time to Lose as a gateway drug into the rest of her music, starting with 2016’s Finding Foundations: Volume I – from which the track is taken.
MORE FROM THIS WEEK’S MIX
FLYING LOTUS: TAKASHI
BRONX SLANG: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
BRAD MEHLDAU: THE GARDEN
ISHMAEL ENSEMBLE FEAT. YAZZ AHMED: THE RIVER
P.S. You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.
If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.
– SV –