Music with heavenly choirs
November 27, 2009 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Otherworldly choral elements in music - help me find some more. Been listening a lot at the moment to songs by Grizzly Bear (like Foreground, Cheerleader and I Live With You) and Bjork (in particular Unison) which have the most gorgeous, ethereal choral sounds drifting through them. What else might I like that uses similar sounds to colour the songs? I'm not looking for choral music as such, rather rock/electronica which uses choirs to colour the sound and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
posted by reynir to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Fever Ray
posted by fire&wings at 12:00 PM on November 27, 2009

Best answer: Eric Whitacre is a contemporary (mostly) choral composer who wrote a pretty badass electronica opera with gorgeous choral music weaved throughout.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:07 PM on November 27, 2009

May think of more later, but:

Smog's song Hit the Ground Running uses a terrible children's choir to wonderful and unsettling effect.

Mount Eerie's album Singers is an album of songs arranged for huge choirs, recorded with a single microphone, which sounds incredible. It's out of print, but you can find it on the internet. MeMail me if you can't.

The Dirty Projectors' song Finches' Song at Oceanic Parking Lot uses a choir singing in a Bulgarian style (the Bulgarian style is totally otherworldly) cut up by a laptop, and you can find it on their Myspace.

Of course there's always You Can't Always Get What You Want, which is a cliche because it's excellent.
posted by voronoi at 12:13 PM on November 27, 2009

Try The Yamasuki Singers.

Here's my favorite song from that album.

Not really ethereal, but definitely rock, and definitely incredible.
posted by past at 12:18 PM on November 27, 2009

Human Sexual Response.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:24 PM on November 27, 2009

"Lacrymosa" by Evanescence. It samples parts of Mozart's Requiem, which is a choral work. It's a pretty cool piece, IMO.
posted by angiewriter at 12:34 PM on November 27, 2009

If they aren't too New Agey for you, Enigma uses a ton of vocal samples in their techno-dance albums. Sample.

Also this only uses a single vocal sample, but it's pretty ethereal and the song has a fantastic beat.
posted by ropeladder at 1:01 PM on November 27, 2009

Fleet Foxes might fit the bill-- not choruses, per se, but some very interesting harmonies that sound somewhat out-of-time, to my ears anyway.
posted by hwickline at 1:08 PM on November 27, 2009

the Kinks Choral Collection is somehow not terrible.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:33 PM on November 27, 2009

Dead Man's Bones
posted by mannequito at 1:52 PM on November 27, 2009

Not quite choral, but in the same sort of space (ethereal reverb), consider the New Moon soundtrack. (Yes, I know, but it's actually got lots of awesome music, and if you replace the album art nobody's the wiser!) Lykke Li's "Possibility", "Slow Life" by Grizzly Bear, and "No Sound But the Wind" by Editors are standouts.
posted by fhangler at 1:54 PM on November 27, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you all - what an eclectic selection. Not much that I've been able to listen to so far has quite hit the rather ill-defined gives-me-goosebumps feeling I'm after, but there are some interesting discoveries there in other directions, so cheers for it all.

Thanks Voronoi for reminding me via the Dirty Projectors about the Mysteres de la Voix Bulgares, which I must track down again, and am going to hunt down that Mount Eerie album.

past - no, not what I was looking for

hwickline, I do like the Fleet Foxes but I thought that 'which other bands with harmonies like...' was probably a separate AskMefi...
posted by reynir at 1:56 PM on November 27, 2009

Best answer: Volcano Choir.
posted by pxe2000 at 1:59 PM on November 27, 2009

Hmmm... Enya comes to mind, especially her earlier albums. Clannad follows quite logically, as do Dead Can Dance, Lisa Gerrard and This Mortal Coil. Oh, and the Cocteau Twins.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 2:33 PM on November 27, 2009

Brian Eno: An Ending (Ascent) is the archetypal ethereal hairs-on-back-of-neck chords track for me. No (real) choir though.

Antony and the Johnsons: Hope There's Someone ends up pretty choral and shivery.
posted by cogat at 3:16 PM on November 27, 2009

This is, in fact, choral music, but with an indie-rock twist: the Scala Choir & Kolacny Brothers (an Italian girls' choir) covering "Heartbeats" by the Knife. Very hairs-standing-up for me.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 3:24 PM on November 27, 2009

Sarah Brightman's Eden was always a guilty pleasure for me (although my love of it lessened after I discovered the original by Hooverphonic).

Ben Folds' live performances of Not The Same. You probably have to be there to experience the full effect, but the live album version is lovely.

And -- probably not quite what you're looking for, but can't help but mention it -- Track 9 from the OST for Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer, Meeting Laura. Music doesn't get much more spine-tingly.
posted by sleepcrime at 3:38 PM on November 27, 2009

'Tarantula' by This Mortal Coil from the Filigree & Shadows album is gorgeous.
posted by mattholomew at 3:42 PM on November 27, 2009

Dan from Grizzly Bear is in another band called Department of Eagles which is more electronic and experimental (and much better overall, as far as I'm concerned). Their music often features choral samples, especially their first album The Cold Nose.

Also, there's Frontier Psychiatrist by The Avalanches, the gold standard of sampled choral music.
posted by saladin at 5:27 PM on November 27, 2009

Seconding Cocteau Twins.
posted by january at 6:38 PM on November 27, 2009

Best answer: Try Efterklang, from Denmark.
posted by zoinks at 11:49 PM on November 27, 2009

Kate Bush, "Hello Earth".
posted by NemesisVex at 1:22 AM on November 28, 2009

Knut Reiersrud & Iver Kleive "I Don't Feel Noways Tired", their version builds up to a cathartic vocal climax by the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, goosebumps every time for me.
posted by amestoy at 2:33 AM on November 28, 2009

Panda Bear
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 7:03 AM on November 28, 2009

Sara Ayers. It's not pop, more floaty ambient.
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 9:25 AM on November 28, 2009

10cc - I'm Not in Love (Interesting story about its production as well.)

Electric Light Orchestra used orchestra and choir in a lot of their songs, but they're probably too cheesy and over-the-top to be "ethereal." Still, I like these:

Eldorado Overture/Can't Get It Out of My Head
Mr. Blue Sky
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 11:49 AM on November 28, 2009

Sigur Ros
posted by Sys Rq at 1:45 PM on November 28, 2009

David Hykes/Harmonic Choir
posted by Paris Elk at 12:45 AM on December 6, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks all - even with the suggestions that didn't quite fit the (very personal) neck-tingling hit I wanted, I found some really interesting new music to check out.

Efterklang was spot on what I was after - cheers zoinks.
posted by reynir at 11:32 AM on January 16, 2010

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