Unangelic Voices (Ungvox for short) is a solo performance project combining acapella jazz, vocal looping and poetry with twisted cabaret theatrics, storytelling and portraits from the ignored corners of society. With a sound sitting somewhere between Bobby McFerrin and The Creatures, expect a satirical, cerebral and occasionally visceral mix of songs, poems and misfit tales. The original experimental EP was released in the summer of 2017, I am currently working on a full length album to be released later in 2018.
When I began experimenting with live cam performances in 2016/17 I did so in three flavours; “Mano O Piano”, in which I would accompany myself on piano (my main instrument), “Protest Singer?” (on acoustic guitar) and “Hot Voxing”, in which I would recite poetry and use iPhone looping software to build acapella grooves to sing over. To maintain spontaneity and live simplicity I chose to eschew prerecorded sequences, loop libraries or electronic modulation effects, instead creating layers particularly inspired by Bobby McFerrin’s solo acapella work.
Hot Voxing was interesting to work with as the limitations of live looping forced me to strip down and refocus complex song structures to something which could be built up and cycled in real time, often leading to new angles of study and interpretation for my own songs, standards and cover versions.
In June 2017 I released the first Unangelic Voices EP under my own name. Partly in reaction to the bland preppy preconceptions many people have of acapella vocal harmonies, the EP was deliberately provocative, invoking politics (‘Treason’, a doo-wop-esque song hitting back at those in the UK who love to casually throw accusations of high treason at pro-Europeans), religion (‘The Devil Repents’, actually a study in the awkwardness that ensues when those cast as villains fail to be villainous) , macabre themes and irregular time signatures (the 11/8 cycle of ‘Your Turn To Be The Bogeyman’). I described it at the time as “less like the Manhatten Transfer, more like the Manhatten Project”. Despite my best efforts to repel listeners (or possibly due to – music can be funny that way), the record enjoyed generally positive responses and ‘Treason’ was played by Lal Muttock on BBC Introducing Northampton. I took this experience back to the rehearsal room to begin developing Unangelic Voices as a live project in its own right.