The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices – Shandai Ya / Stanka Review

Live cuts from one of the best albums of the last few years

Sounds like…

All the widsom and emotion of Bulgaria in song

The review

BooCheemish was and is an absolutely outstanding album. The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices and their collaboration with Lisa Gerrard was a musical dream come true. Their styles beautifully augment each other and the album is full of gems.

‘Shandai Ya’ and ‘Stanka’ are two tracks from that album and they form the title of this extension to BooCheemish as an EP. Of the seven tracks, two are new, four are re-recorded versions for this EP and the closing track is ‘Shandai Ya’ taken from the album. How you feel about the closeness of these reworks will decide for you how essential this purchase is. If you look at it as a standalone body of work though, the quality and emotion is phenomenal.

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices
The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices

The tracks that have been recorded again have a slightly more intimate and streamlined feel. Its like a live take of the studio tracks. ‘Shandai Ya’ is more acoustic and less percussive. ‘Stanka’ has a choir version which gives it a slightly calmer and more brooding feel. ‘Rano Ranila’ receives an inspired beatbox percussion treatment. With all the voices on full pelt, the beatbox and the guitars all singing together – its a cracking ensemble that fills your heart.

The two new tracks feature a riveting live version of ‘Rite of Passage’. This is a Lisa Gerrard composition that has been transformed with the Voices. Its Balkan vibes dance through the percussion and instrumentation with pride. The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices trade lines with Lisa Gerrard before joining together and dovetailing each other. It is explosive and pacey. The studio new track ‘Zaidi Sluntse’ features the beatboxer SkilleR. His skills make this track unique as it feels both electronic and aboriginal whilst the Voices move from powerful movement to movement.

Are two new tracks enough to warrant a new EP? That is up to you as a buyer. The other renditions are sublime although, aside from ‘Rano Ranila’, they are quite similar to their originals. Ultimately, the music that’s here is sublime and I’d recommend it on that basis alone. There is nothing quite like it out there. Add a point if you are a huge fan, subtract one if you aren’t sure!

Recommended track: Rite of Passage

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The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices - Shandai Ya / Stanka



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