Fricke's Picks: Choir of Young Believers' Spiritual Awakening

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In the Danish band Choir of Young Believers, there are many singers. Half of the near-dozen members on This Is for the White in Your Eyes (Tigerspring), the group's European debut album, contribute backing vocals. But there is only one Voice: founding songwriter Jannis Noya Makrigiannis, who manages to sound utterly alone — singing in cold echo with the high, keening melancholy of the Zombies' Colin Blunstone and the Neil Young of "A Man Needs a Maid" — amid his slow-motion army of guitars, piano, strings and brass.

During a recent show at the Spot Festival in Aarhus, Denmark, the Choir seemed to play without moving, like a studio-orchestra version of Arcade Fire; for showcraft, Makrigiannis would tip his head back, as if he was throwing high notes to the ceiling. But the movement that mattered was in the songs — the magnetic creep of the strings and the wordless-vocal fall in "These Rituals of Mine"; the subversive rapture of the chorus in "Next Summer"; the tundra-reverb harmonies glazing the hip-hop gait of "Action/Reaction." It was like hearing Radiohead's Thom Yorke in the middle of a Sixties Roy Orbison single, an effect Makrigiannis repeatedly achieves on the album, which is released here by Ghostly International on August 18th. Let the buzz begin.

[From Issue 1082-83, July 9-23, 2009]