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Voices in Your Head

University of Chicago

Burn - Single (2014)

5.0

Review By TeKay

November 19, 2014

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Unfortunately, the a cappella community (this reviewer included) has taken to calling anything that has excellent production values, strong soloists, and great musicality supporting a very solid and masterly creative arrangement "epic". So much so that it detracts from those performances that are truly deserving of the descriptor.

Which is a shame, because lawd have mercy, this is one time where that word is truly apt. In all manner of form and function, the latest single release from the University of Chicago's Voices in Your Head is truly EPIC.

Chris Rishel is becoming known for taking his "narrative" style of arranging and transforming rather tired pop hits into inspired ballads — most recently for the award-winning We Found Love, and now surely for his next major hit, Burn.

Burn pretty much has it all. The dynamics alone are worth the "5" I'm giving. But then the group gives Rishel some amazing choral singing that is like putty in his hands. Tempo shifts that sometimes build gradually, and other times overtake you in the turn of phrase. Drumming that propels the rhythm with increasing intensity as the energy of the singers escalates. Did I mention the rich singing and multi-layered textures created throughout? What's ridiculous is that my favorite moment comes in at the 3:19 mark where the sopranos have this high slightly post-vocalic "r" on "fi-yahr" that then falls into the more common "fi-yah" on the lower second pass. Glorious. YAAAS-cat approves.

The only thing I don't like is the opening "gong", but really that's just a matter of taste — of which I apparently have none in this instance.

Burn will sear into your brain for years to come.


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