The Beacon Sound Choir: Sunday Morning Drones
Is there any artist who attends more closely to his muse than Peter Broderick? Where it leads, he determinedly follows, even if it's a decidedly less-than-commercial direction. His latest release is a ten-inch gold vinyl affair (300 numbered copies available) that features eleven minutes of music on the A side and a silkscreen print on the flip. It's not issued under his birth name, however, but under The Beacon Sound Choir, a fitting move given that while the project was instigated by him, his voice is but one of the thirty-plus constituting the group (his sister, Heather Woods Broderick, also participates).
Though its name might suggest otherwise, The Beacon Sound Choir is a rather informal group project, and in keeping with said informality, the two improvised vocal drones featured on the release were laid down, naturally enough, at Beacon Sound, a record shop and label in Portland, Oregon. In Peter's own words, the singers would convene on Sunday morning, “drink coffee and chat for a bit, and then when we were ready we'd all stand in a circle and begin ... Someone would start singing a note (usually me), then everyone would join in on that same note, then we'd all start branching off to different notes, and eventually we'd come back to the same note and end together.”Don't read too much into the fact that the pieces were recorded on a Sunday: they're not choir works of religious character, even if a spiritual dimension can be said to be in play when voices congregate in the way they do here. That aforesaid informality declares itself in the hushed opener especially when an infant's voice surfaces briefly alongside the adults' wordless murmurings and for a few moments when the piece ends. The second piece differentiates itself from the first when female voices can be heard drifting over the mass during “Drone 2,” an effect that imbues the piece with an ethereal, almost celestial character. More than anything else, however, the two settings highlight the harmonic effects that occur when multiple voices sing together at varying pitches and, while not atonal, the drones exude an almost Ligeti-like quality when the pitches butt up against one another so unpredictably.