Sunday, July 13, 2008

Heaven Week: Milky-White Way

Take 6: Milky-White Way


A capella music gets a bad rap in popular post-digital culture, primarily due to the proliferation of mediocre collegiate parodies of popular song which flit through the blogosphere, their false and commonplace cheerfulness wresting all meaning from everything they touch, their harmonic gusto boiling every nuance out of even the simplest love song.

But like any musical form -- and yes, a capella music when done properly is a musical form, not just a production choice -- there's good stuff out there, if you know where to look, and what to listen to and for.

Take Take 6, for example. They may have formed in a college bathroom (good acoustics), but I had the privilege of seeing these guys in concert once way back in high school, and I can tell you: this is the real deal, folks. Spiritual singers with a broad range, known for their full jazz harmonies, complex arrangements, and a masterful handle on the subtleties that make a song really mean something. But perhaps even more significantly, here's a group that knows how to use silence as much as they know how to use sound -- giving them a control over the total sonic environment which is, more than anything else, the mark of "real" a capella.

Technically, this is Christian music -- uplifting covers of hymns and bible stories. Not typical fare for me, I swear. But damn, if this sparsely arranged take on a traditional hymn isn't enough to make you rush the pulpit. Turn it up, and make sure the bass is boosted. Prepare to be amazed, and uplifted.

PS: Want more Take 6? Then head over to their website, click forward one on the player at the top of the screen, and check out their version of It's Not That Easy Being Green for some lighter yet equally impressive fare.)

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