Artist: Pneuma Ensemble
Song: Stella Splendens [traditional]
Recorded at June Records ("Cassette Store Day"), September 27, 2014.Pneuma Ensemble - Stella Splendens
Full review to follow. Kudos to June Records for taking up the cause of Cassette Store Day, getting some local tapes up on their walls and hosting a day-long in-store celebration. I was only able to make the first set, but I was quite blown away by something quite unexpected.
Pneuma Ensemble is "a Toronto-based early music group focused on 11th-14th C. medieval monophony (such as troubadour song and minnesang) using historically informed performance and medieval instruments". We tend to think of medieval music and culture in monochromatic terms, so it's quite exciting to see it brought to life. The trio of Eleanor Verrette (vielle), Gaven Dianda (also of psych-rockers The Saffron Sect, gittern) and Tricia Postle (psaltery) were joined for this set by Andrew Zukerman and Ian Cheung on analog synths, adding an extra layer of drone and burble behind the sounds of this tune, which was taken from a 14th-century manuscript, that had originally been compiled "because the pilgrims wish to sing and dance while they keep their watch at night in the church of the Blessed Mary of Montserrat".