This recording by young Latvian musician Raimonds Tiguls,
who, apparently, is well-know in his country, follows on from another
well-known Scandinavian, Jan Garbarek, who had immense popular success
with two recordings of early music sung by the Hilliard Ensemble with
his saxophone improvisations played over the music. Where Garbarek created
soundscapes that could stand on their own, this recording, which features
Gregorian chants with synthesisers, does not accomplish the same thing.
The sound of this disc is close to stereotypical new-age
music, with the choir taking a secondary role to the keyboards. In addition,
the choir is not singing in the Gregorian style, but a mixture of old-fashioned
harmonies and modern singing. While Tiguls tries to "say"
something with this music, it sounds, to these ears, like just another
of those experiments that went awry. The problem is that, instead of
letting the Gregorian chants be central and using the synthesisers to
highlight the music, Tiguls takes the opposite tack and adds the chants
to his keyboard sounds.
It should be noted that I am a big fan of ambient music,
and composers such as Brian Eno, Wim Mertens and others who present
new, unique sounds, but this recording has all the charm of elevator
music or background music for spiritual supermarkets. In addition, at
just over 38 minutes, it is a pretty limited experience. If you want
ambient music, go for some Brian Eno. If you want Gregorian chant, there
are plenty of choices. If you want an experiment, the two recordings
by Jan Garbarek are excellent and certainly worth hearing.