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coverpic flag Czech Republic - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 30 - 03/31/99

Bára Basiková
Gregoriana
Monitor-EMI Records

Back in 1990, Enigma conquered the world by combining Gregorian chants with modern rhythms and sampled sounds. Now capitalizing on the new-found freedom of religion and of expression in Central Europe, composer/producer Pavel Vaculík and Bára Basiková based their album on the same premise.

It is an ambitious project. In addition to a Gregorian choir recorded in Italy, there is an eight piece vocal group, as well as a keyboard-based drums & bass accompaniment that was provided by otherwise anonymous 'FAMA'. Since her debut solo album, the anorexic Ms. Basiková has gained some weight, got married and was cast in the title role of a new musical loosely based on the Antonín Dorák's opera Rusalka.

Gregoriana contains 15 cuts, but five of them are alternate versions. The single Veni Domine (all the text is in Latin) is repeated three times, once as a pop ballad, once as a piano & voice piece, and finally over an insistent disco beat with the Italian monks thrown in for a good measure. In every case, the effect is the same: Basiková sounds like Olivia Newton-John doing the Jesus Christ, Superstar soundtrack.

The two versions of Kyrie Eleison take almost 10 minutes. The complete lyrics (credited to M. Láznovská) consist of Kyrie Eleison, aha, aha, with an occasional yeah. Still, it is less annoying than Pascha which ends with the vocal chorus Sa-ah-ah-santi spiritus, gratia, aha-hah.

The other annoying thing is the slick yet utterly useless booklet. It consists of pages of repeating Latin phrases (for instance Sancta Maria printed 19 times, from the top of the page to the bottom), but it has very little other information. Also included was a not very flattering, signed snapshot of Ms. Basiková from her wedding, and a little stem of an unknown herb (laurel? myrrh?).

I'm afraid there wasn't much I liked here. While on Miserere Basiková sounds strong, most of the time her singing is weak and phony. As for Vaculík's compositions, many of the progressions are more new age-y than liturgical. Laudate Nomen is the only exception.

Contrary to the noble intentions and the dramatic cover photo, unfortunately Gregoriana comes off as a fluffy, featherweight effort.

Copyright © 1999 Ivan Sever e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Bára Basiková article/review: Bara Basikova.

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