Image © KHY Suomen Musiikki 2005
(09 October 2005) The human voice used as a musical instrument is increasing in popularity in today's music, and our editorial staff believe that this move is more than welcome. Obviously some consider a cappella music as an unchangeable and static genre, but it has been a sheer delight to see/hear the dynamic development throughout the years and that new vocal groups emerge even here in Finland every now and then, keeping the vocal ensemble culture alive.
One of the recently discovered vocal diamonds is a Finnish a cappella group called Fork, consisting of Mia "Chiq LaDesire" Hafrén, Kasper "Winston Chill" Ramström, Jonte "Miles Precious" Ramsten and Silva "Diamong Evergreen" Lillrank, introducing Birthe "Cindy Vine" Wingren. Fork started their career in 1996, but, for some (mysterious) reason, their debut album Cover To Cover (KHY Suomen Musiikki Oy | EMI (Finland) SMCD002, 2005) did not see daylight until this year.
When looking at the track list of the album, one might think "oh no, not another vocal group trying desperately to
re-vamp old pop/rock hits into a cappella style." Obviously this kind of a fearful reaction is not always expressed in vain, but with this album such worries can be demolished right away!
From the first track to the very last one, these five very skillful singers provide an exciting musical experience, literally sweeping off the listeners' feet! One certainly becomes utterly amazed by the abilities and possibilities of the human voices, even though the group has enhanced them by using modern microphone technology. Obviously there are some listeners who are a bit against this kind of equipment, but basically the "tour de force" still lies still in the vocalists themselves. Despite the usage of technical aids this is still a cappella music at heart.
Another issue that may cause a bit disagreement is the arrangement of the album's pieces, namely quite many of them are sounding close to their original versions. But, that this similarity forms the basic idea of the album, being vital but still leaving enough space for the group's own interpretation. Being somewhat faithful to the original pieces is also a sign of knowledge about the songs, that way artists can prove their audience that they know wht they are performing.
The song collection on Cover To Cover is indeed versatile rather than one that is too diverse, made with a great taste. For example, Fork's version of "Smooth Criminal" (originally by Michael Jackson) is very groovy, but then again the group respects beautifully the important messaga that's included into Coldplay's ballad "Politik," by performing the piece very sensitively and delicately. Not forgetting the great interpretations of the music by e.g. U2 ("Beautiful Day"), Alanis Morrissette ("You Oughta Know"), Ricky Martin ("Livin' La Vida Loca") to name but a few. The track "Can't A Loop" is a medley of hooks from previous top hits.
To summarize, this album is a worthwhile acquisition, even if one has previously felt that a cappella music is not very appealing. Presently the album is only available in Finland and travel there is necessary to see the group perform live in concert. People across the world who like great music are likely to agree that Fork and their stunning music deserves to be heard by a worldwide audience!--Suvi Kaikkonen in Oulu, Finland and Russ Elliot in New York