If my first venture into The Marica Frequency’s musically strange and wonderfully hypnotic world was via the minimalism and elemental atmospherics of Hallowed Ground, this second excursion was quite a different experience. For whilst That Voice Behind is based on similar floating ethereal sounds, here it eschews the pastoral, post-folksiness understatements that were the essence of the previous offering and goes for nothing less than widescreen, cinematic choral beauty.
Washes of synth blend with both mass choral ranks and hypnotic lead lines. But, again unlike Hallowed Ground, it opts for a less tangible vocal delivery, one that explores the idea of vocals as an instrument. Marisa Frantz is the voice that is at the core of these explorations and they seem to take over where Karl Jenkins left off. If the canon of work that began with the ground breaking Adiemus experimented with vocals as communication without language, here this concept is taken a stage further. Communication as pure emotion.
Visually a similar approach to before is taken, a slide show of fixed, pastoral images with strange and teasing animations running through almost as if Terry Gilliam had been asked to do the screen projections for an early Pink Floyd show and is, like the music, unique, clever and anonymous.
Two brief encounters with The Marica Frequency, it is more than enough to make me want to hunt down the parent album Nursery Rhymes as it is clear that something interesting and musically important is happening behind these unobtrusive yet tantalising videos. The music is genre-hopping, it pushes the boundaries of the role of vocals, language and communication, it builds interesting musical structures around existing natural atmospherics and it wanders through different cultures finding no fixed abode in any one.
The Marica Frequency make world music but the world it describes isn’t one that you immediately recognise, certainly not the one that we live in on a day-to-day basis. It reflects the intangible, the unspoken, the atomic and the unseen and does so in a way that is understated yet majestic, distant yet imposing. It’s a world I am more than happy to spend a lot of time in.