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Demetrio Stratos: Cantare la Voce

Album Notes

Of the five solo recordings vocalist Demetrio Stratos recorded during his short lifetime, Cantare la Voce stands as his highest achievement. Issued in 1974, it reflects Stratos' deep fascination with John Cage's music, and his wide-ranging study of interpreting it for solo voice. Here, the techniques of diplophony and triplophony are deeply and widely articulated -- long investigations in working the voice out of its monadic heremiticism. "Investigazoni" is the perfect articulation of these discoveries, as the glottal imprint of "speech" completely dissolves into the much more heterogeneous exploratory of "language," which also breaks down into groups of sounds, some being articulated simultaneously without the use of multi-tracking or artificial amplification (other than a recording microphone). This piece is over 14 minutes in length and presupposes nothing; it breaks down utterance, vibration, and sonic interlocution into elementary units that spread themselves over the sonic spectrum and become groups of tonalities juxtaposed against the backdrop, first of the human body's limits in regards to the voice, but then against the construct of western "music" and tonality itself. In "Passaggi 1, 2," breath becomes the way inside rather than out. Most of the sounds here are made by the various techniques of opening, widening, and constricting the flow of air into the lungs rather than out. But perhaps the most groundbreaking work here is "Criptomelodie Infantili." Clocking in at six and a half minutes, it is a primal exploration into the very elementals of sonic expression. In fact, it would not be too generous or outrageous to suggest that Stratos' vocalizing here is similar to what may have been the first sounds ever uttered by the "developed" human instrument. This is delightful and scary, raw and powerful, and utterly charming in its primitivism and articulation. Cantare la Voce is still the standard for exploratory work with the human voice, almost 30 years after its issue. ~ Thom Jurek


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