Out from Yonder

All things Recorded A Cappella Review Board.

Out from Yonder

Postby ThunderCurl » Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:36 am

This review really interested me. And given the other thread about samples, I went to CDBaby to listen to clips of her stuff.

5,4,3. Average 4. I almost didn't even read the reviews. But they were very interesting. No real criticisms that went beyond sheer taste. And yet...no one could "agree" on a rating. And no one quite knew how to react.

I listened to her stuff, and i gotta say, it's awesome. Really cool stuff. Engaging, harmonically and compositionally cool while keeping a stylistic and cultural simplicity that achieved her goals. Many things repeated over and over again, which I found hypnotising and fun. And energetic. Something we don't see.

Her music has this soul that "contemporary a cappella" doesn't have. None of it. Not even the Bubs, where it's awesome but just because of a performance factor. This was awesome because it was awesome in and of itself. Very little production magic. Little "studio" arranging (it seemed). Little flash and smash. It was all voices, it all sounded like voices, and it had a tone and energy all it's own.

The Question. This doesn't fall into the categorization of "contemporary a cappella" like most collegiate groups, for example, do. How do we react to something with which we're not very familiar? We don't have a checklist of things to see whether it's awesome or not...and in some ways, the reviews troubled over taste and preference rather than quality and objective. If someone tries something different, is it bad? Is it a preference judgment? Are we shocked into indifference or anti-preference? How can we drag ourselves out of our bubbles to really appreciate something different?

I wouldn't put this on my Top 40 playlist, but it's cool music, and definitely worth regarding. It just interested me how the reviews didn't know...what to do with the album.
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Re: Out from Yonder

Postby erstedame » Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:15 pm

ThunderCurl wrote:This was awesome because it was awesome in and of itself.


Can I qoute you on that?
-l

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Postby Mnemosyne » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:54 pm

I think this brings up a question that doesn't usually (or, to my knowledge, has ever) apply to reviews on RARB - does the reviewer really know what they're listening to? It seems pretty evident from the review that TK either did large amounts of research on the type of music that appeared on this album, or simply knew a lot about it beforehand. As well, he had some background on the artist herself. Evidence:

TK, in his review, wrote:Lewis is a classical pianist who has been releasing albums since 2003. Out from Yonder is a cycle of music using aspects of sacred song traditions from around the globe. So not all of the tracks seem like fully considered songs in the Western tradition. She's created melodies, motifs and soundscapes using American spirituals, Hindu mantras and Tuvan throat singing as foundations on which her creative expression blossoms. [...] Lewis has an earthy sexiness to her voice like a subdued Meshell Ndegeocello with a bit of Sade Adu's velvetness for extra spice.

He obviously understands the kind of music Lilli was producing. I saw it in a similar way, even without much background - an album that combined defined arrangements and traditional "songs" with musical expression, in the tradition (distantly, I suppose) of "art music," where a composer might just be creating the musical equivalent of a doodle.

This isn't to say things like
Brojo, in his review, wrote:The textures she conjures up for the incantations are interesting, but repetitive and somewhat static, thus less accessible to me.

are out of place - this was the taste of the reviewer. I think what needs to be taken out of this is that people who know what they're getting into are going to love this album; those with open minds can find it musically interesting at the very least; and as with any piece of art, some people subjectively won't like it.

Because I can't resist putting in my two cents, I have to say that, accepting that this kind of music was completely foreign to me, I still loved much of the album. Lilli's voice is so unique in a way that we only get to hear nowadays in N'Orleans jazz clubs once we're already a couple of hand grenades into the night, but still appreciate nonetheless. I certainly appreciate the basic production - though the audiophile in me cringes at the background hum, the musician in me tells my left brain to summarily shut up and appreciate it. I have to quote Brojo again to end this right:

Brojo, in his review, wrote: Buy this album to remind yourself that singing is awesome.
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the hum...

Postby erstedame » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:30 pm

my projects are pretty much nightmares for audiophiles. anyone have any good tips for me?

-l

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Postby Brojo » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:47 pm

i just want to point out that we are all cooler now that lilli lewis has joined our forum.
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Postby RnBMrE » Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:46 am

Brojo wrote:i just want to point out that we are all cooler now that lilli lewis has joined our forum.


No big deal. We're already cool enough with Kevin Sawyer here.

Matt Emery CASA Director of Communications Three-time Recipient of RARB "Post of the Year" Title

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cool points...

Postby erstedame » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:36 am

it's fun to know a geek like me can still boost cool points...at least by some people's standards... ;-)


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Re: the hum...

Postby billhare » Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:56 am

erstedame wrote:my projects are pretty much nightmares for audiophiles. anyone have any good tips for me?


Speaking as someone who produces A Cappella albums for a living, the best advice I can give (in this particular case at least) is to stay true to yourself and your music. I can't - and historically don't - say that to many groups or singers, because most of the time people NEED that extra glossy sheen to make up for other aspects of becoming an "audio only" event. However, on this album, the technical "warts" seem more appropriate - outside of the hum and volume changes on "We Shall Overcome" (and honestly, had the hum been at a constant level, I wouldn't have been distracted by it - there's actually something cool about it in a lo-fi way, intentional or not), there was not a lot that I would have changed. To carefully polish and scrub these performances would have taken some of the spirit along with it, and that raw emotion is the most captivating part.

This isn't to say "let's do bad recording on purpose", but more like "what does this really need to get the point across?" Based on the reaction we've seen here, the point came across quite well!

How far can it be "cleaned up" for the next album? Would this album have sold any better, or get more acclaim if it were done in a more "audiophile" way? It does work that way for a lot of groups - but in this case I would always go for spirit first, and (technical) sound second. The home-made aspect of the sound on this album seems to fit the material very well, so be careful to not feel the need to make it too slick next time.

-B

Bill Hare Some dude who records and mixes people who can't play instruments. http://www.dyz.com

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wow...that was great

Postby erstedame » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:48 am

thanks so much. that was really great. the we shall overcome track was taken from a copy of a radio interview i did in fort collins and i didn't really know how to fix it with the tools i had (or what tools i'd need for that matter).

the project happened fairly spontaneously while i was living in the middle of nowhere in CO and was never really considered for marketability. that being said, when i went in to start cleaning it up a bit, i did find that the "spirit" of the project started to dwindle, so i, just going on my gut and not really having any knowledge on the matter, tried to split the difference.

i really appreciate what you have to say bill, and admit that as an amateur, i never would have expected such an answer. i always long to have the budget and access to "commercial" solutions to audio problems, but it's nice to hear that that's not always necessary...though i swear, one of these days i'm gonna have an authentic, glossy, sheeny project...one of these days....

-l


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Reading is Fundamental/The Electric Company bla bla

Postby tekay » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:17 pm

I read.

I could (should) have stated that according to her website Lewis is a classical pianist. And I read as much of the CD jacket that I could in order to get more background. The subtitle of the CD "songs, mirrors and incantations from shambahla land" is very intriguing.

Thank you Alex for your comments!

we so cool we old skool.

Mnemosyne wrote:
T(e)K(ay), in his review, wrote:Lewis is a classical pianist who has been releasing albums since 2003. Out from Yonder is a cycle of music using aspects of sacred song traditions from around the globe. So not all of the tracks seem like fully considered songs in the Western tradition. She's created melodies, motifs and soundscapes using American spirituals, Hindu mantras and Tuvan throat singing as foundations on which her creative expression blossoms. [...] Lewis has an earthy sexiness to her voice like a subdued Meshell Ndegeocello with a bit of Sade Adu's velvetness for extra spice.

He obviously understands the kind of music Lilli was producing. I saw it in a similar way, even without much background - an album that combined defined arrangements and traditional "songs" with musical expression, in the tradition (distantly, I suppose) of "art music," where a composer might just be creating the musical equivalent of a doodle.
[/quote]

[color=#8040BF]http://www.rarb.org/people/thomas-king.html http://www.deltacappella.com CASA Dir. of Ambassador Program SoJam Producer & Concert Mgr Sing Producer CAL jd All Things A Cappella FOTS #1 ICCA Producer Emeritus "the

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Postby ThunderCurl » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:19 pm

Oh yeah, lilli, i think your stuff IS great. it's organic and gets at the heart of music, which is rare nowadays, imo.

And yeah you can quote me, haha, as long as you can make me sound more awesome by maybe substituting "awesome" with a word slightly more...well...you know. ;)

I hope if you ever get the money to make something with more sheen, you opt for more creativity instead. sheen is overrated. i mean, seriously, charlie is just past his time.
Tyler Herman
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Cornell U. Last Call ('05-'09)
Rock Beats Paper vocal band- Ithaca, NY ('06-'08)
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awesome.

Postby erstedame » Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:18 am

And yeah you can quote me, haha, as long as you can make me sound more awesome by maybe substituting "awesome" with a word slightly more...well...you know. ;)


nope. awesome is awesome.

ThunderCurl wrote:I hope if you ever get the money to make something with more sheen, you opt for more creativity instead. sheen is overrated. i mean, seriously, charlie is just past his time.


true dat. poor charlie.

my current project is songs composed exclusively for a looper. there a certain limitations in arrangement on the looper. it's interesting being a solo a cappella artist in the world, and i'm finding myself inspired by the limitations.

the idiom is presenting it's own audio issues in the recording process that i'll have to decide how to tackle, but here is what a few of them sound like when they first come out:

http://www.imeem.com/lillilewis/playlis ... _playlist/

again, if you do chose to listen let me remind you that these are "rough cuts" recorded as a "record" on the same day they were written...and in the immortal words of one erykah badu, "keep in mind i'm an artist and i'm sensitive about my ish."
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Postby kevin47 » Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:03 pm

No big deal. We're already cool enough with Kevin Sawyer here.


Well, it's sort of a cause and effect thing, really.

Speaking of which, Justin Vernon and I are catching happys tomorrow at Psycho S-----. He was asking about you, so if you're game...

We'll arrive any time between 4 and 9, but if I were you I'd just plan on being there for the duration. Or not, you know, I mean, it's Minneapolis... Whatever...

Loves and kittens...
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Claremont Shades
('97-'01)
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Postby RnBMrE » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:09 pm

kevin47 wrote:
No big deal. We're already cool enough with Kevin Sawyer here.


We'll arrive any time between 4 and 9


See? He's only loosely bound by time constraints! WOWOWOWOW.

Matt Emery CASA Director of Communications Three-time Recipient of RARB "Post of the Year" Title

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