Jaap Blonk / Koichi Makigami / Paul Dutton / Phil Minton / David Moss - "Five Men Singing", Les Disques Victo

Five Men Singing / Voices Quintet
Music Gallery, St. George-the-Martyr Anglican Church, Toronto, Canada

Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 8 PM
(part of the VTO Festival)

Was this an aural or a visual experience? The meeting of these five extraordinary voices in one room was truly a coup de resistance, a tour de force and every other superlative in the book. Their first meeting took place in a quaint church in Toronto (Canada). No more than a hundred people were on hand to witness what was history in the making. I mean, how many times in the past have you so much vocal talent on one stage? The concert itself was a showcase for all of these voices, individually, and as a cohesive unit. There were moments during the hour-long performance when each vocalist was attempting to outdo each other, to over-power the men who sang before him. My highest praise goes to all of them for pulling off what seemed like the impossible. They kept us interested for an entire hour. They kept us on the edge of our proverbial seats. We're talking real variety here. Kudos goes to Japanese Koichi Makigami for looking like a poor lost sheep in the group, while maintaining his unique vocal phrasing. Praise goes out to Canadian Paul Dutton (also of CCMC - check out their records or live performances when / if you get the chance) for keeping up with his good friend Phil Minton. Too many people have accused Paul of simply duplicating what Phil has done previously, but this performance has highlighted his unique flare of the vocal chords. Dutch man Jaap Blonk was a dadaist of the quintet, entertaining us with googles, oogles, woogles and doodles. It seemed that he sang some of the most bizarre phrasings of the bunch. Finally we come to the super duo of British Phil Minton and American (transplanted to Berlin) David Moss. When Minton gurgled, Moss answered with a wail. The thing that had grabbed me most was the build-up of suspense and momentum. A few pieces developed very slowly (as "No Drone Singing" does on the CD), but once they had reached their zenith, there was no stopping of the bunch. David Moss and Jaap Blonk by far had the greatest physical presence out of the five. David Moss by his sheer size, reminded me of a Russian tsar who was begging his queen to come back to him. Only he was doing it in such a way that would scare his queen, not encourage her to come running back. He was waving his hands and moving slowly around the stage, almost as to reaffirm his presence. Similarly, Jaap Blonk had used all of his neck muscles to squirt streams of pure sound out from his vocal chords. The climax came at the very end, when the quintet huddled together for a finale that was both audacious as it was fun. The group gave us farting, wailing, squirming, orgasms galore, high-pitched squashing, and bass-filled lows. It worked, and we reaped the benefits. Forget about any egos, as that night, none of these men displayed any desperation to break out and assert themselves any more than was needed. This was a true collaborative effort. It was brave, gutsy, but more than anything, we had almost as much of a blast as these five did!

The CD "Five Men Singing", recorded only a few days after this performance at 2003's FIMAV, is the closest document in existence of this magical night. The music is just as powerful, grinding, graceful and yet surprisingly cohesive as it was during this concert. This of course, is not only recommended, but is mandatory listening...and I don't often say this about everything I hear. An essential document.

Tom Sekowski

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