Who’s filing the building permits for all these cathedrals of sound bands insist on crafting? After two albums of solid string and guitar melodic rock under the name Choir of Young Believers, Jannis Noya Makrigiannis has stepped away from the pack of pop spiritualistic, building a release that will still be rightfully smeared with the all-purpose word “Epic.” (Capital “E” intentional, obviously.) The result will never be mistaken for orchestral pop.
The connective tissue between Grasque and previous Choir of Young Believers albums holds strong, proving at its core this is still the singular vision of the same man. Autumnal, emotive lyrics delivered via hangdog croon in English, Danish and Greek? Yup, still there. What’s missing is the strings. Guitars, cello, violin. (See ya.) Instead, what we’re offered is a series of synth-led songs that evoke the New Romantic spirit in all its melancholy glory.
Born from a series of jam sessions with producer Aske Zidore (who also helmed the recording of previous Choir of Young Believers effort Rhine Gold), the songs amble through multiple genre divides, most pushing well past the three-minute pop mark. Good thing—it’s the contrasts where the pleasure lies. “Serious Lover” draws an R&B sensuality from choppy live percussion, Makrigiannis’ impeccable falsetto and reverb a’plenty. (Think: less cathedral, more chapel.) Seven-minute long freeform jam “Face Melting” manages to max out the experimental spirit, featuring nothing less than house beats, both piano and synth, and the hypnotic repetition of the phrase “C’mon,” pitched down to a Barry White-style catcall. Sure, it’s an idiosyncratic blend (Even the Danish musician himself wagers to guess, “It might even piss some people off.”) It’s certainly not every musician who can pull off industrial clangs, sax solos, and multiple vocal harmonies over the course of a single album. But Makrigiannis has never been bashful about serving up an off-trend sonic stew of his own making. And now that the doors and windows have been kicked out of his sound, the whole musical world is his cathedral.