Electric Phoenix Live
A group with a difference - four voices, an engineer and electronic processing comprise this highly original classical ensemble.
The name 'Electric Phoenix' might at first glance seem reminiscent of a heavy metal group, complete with all the effects and trappings of a band whose prime concern is the wattage of their amplifiers. The reality couldn't be more different.
Electric Phoenix are a group of highly skilled vocalists that specialise in producing many different sorts of vocal textures. Singing itself comprises only one part of their capabilities. Whistling, whispering, pitched percussive noises and vocal harmonics were just a few of the vocal techniques they exhibited when they performed at the Gardner Centre, Sussex University on the 14th of May.
Sponsored by the Society for the Promotion of New Music, the performance itself was more of a workshop than a concert. The audience were permitted to scrutinise the scores of each of the pieces and encouraged to discuss both the practical and theoretical aspects of the performance. Six new pieces were examined, all of them by aspiring composers and most of them specifically written for four voices and electronics. Discussion ranged around aspects of the performance such as the use of the electronics, the vocal techniques used and the notation of electronic effects on a score.
Each member of Electric Phoenix uses a signal processor comprising a delay, a filter and a ring modulator to expand the vocal textures they're capable of producing. An oscillator is also included that can either modulate the voice or be used alone. These effects are inserted between the mics and the mixer, but other effects were also inserted via the aux sends, such as delay and reverb and a synthesiser and a pre-recorded tape were also made use of on two of the pieces. All in all the workshop was slanted towards the musician's point of view and featured many ideas on different ways electronic effects could be used in modern classical music (something rarely demonstrated). Although these effects were all used live, they would obviously be just as appropriate and could be used as creatively in a studio. For those interested in modern electronic classical music from a musician's or a recordist's standpoint, seeing Electric Phoenix is undoubtably worthwhile.
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