Boomkat Product Review:
Tapping a sublime vein of purely vocal improv inspired by local landscape, history and people, Norfolk’s Laura Cannell and Polly Wright quietly blow us away with their debut collaboration.
Remarkably conceived, recorded and released in 2019 - the same year they first met - ‘Sing as the Crow Flies’ is a super-natural meeting of mutual souls seeking to limn a sort of deep topographical reading of their home turf in a series of haunting, near-wordless hymns. Shockingly effortless in execution and spine-freezing in effect, the nine songs are Laura & Polly’s beautifully concerted effort to rectify the lack of historical female voices in text or music hailing from the Norfolk/Suffolk borders where they live and create. With little to go on, they decided there’s no better time than now to start adding their joint female voices and experiences to the rural sound ecology and culture of East Anglia, and we, at the least, are dead happy they did so.
Drawing on a shared formative background in classical music (and specialities in medieval composition), they nod to the sort of heterophonic improvisation found in Pslams from the Isles of Lewis (as on those Arc Light Editions volumes), as well as Hildegaard Von Bingen inspired call-and-response styles, while taking select words from the 18th C. text ‘Norfolk Garland, A Collection of the Superstitious Beliefs and Practices, Proverbs, Curious Customs, Ballads and Songs, of the People of Norfolk’ to provide structural underpinnings. But what happens in between is just a spellbinding sort of magick, using Raveningham Church as a sounding chamber for their finely controlled but naturally keening and graceful, unhurried expressions of tradition and folklore.
The piece also exists as an installation of five telephone receivers dangling from a tree, in the landscape it was informed by and created for, and may well draw us for a maiden voyage to Norfolk just to get the full experience of this beautiful album.