Now an artist from “Trinovox” trio is back: Julian Spizz. 

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Speaking of nationality, there’s something Italian about this whole solo album by Julian Spizz. The vocalist, who likes to go by the alias Spizzman when he works as a composer or arranger, sings in his native language throughout and, after all, Italian is the language of song!

The technical possibilities have expanded enormously in the meantime. New sampling methods allow not only self-dialog but provide the soloist with the opportunity of becoming a regular one-man vocal orchestra. And where formerly experiments of this kind could only be realized in the recording studio (with the aid of complex multitrack systems), they can now be performed live, i.e. in “real time”! Julian Spizz makes ideal use of these possibilities. For his solo album “Incipit” (a Latin word referring to the beginning, the starting point of an undertaking) he recorded all of the voices himself. In concert, he is also able to realize these complexly interlocked vocal phrases, while giving the audience insight into the evolution of his music: One after the other, he superimposes layers of percussion, bass and various lines of melody, constructing a complete vocal orchestra.

In the process, Julian Spizz is able to draw from the experience he gained with “Trinovox,” though now far exceeding those former boundaries. He booms out a velvety doo-wop bass as the foundation for the groove, then supplies lashing surges of percussion that sound as if he was using a syndrum set, though they are “merely” his own voice. Melodic structures, now wild and ecstatic, now succumbing to a sensual passion for sound – an element probably no Italian would ever do without! – complete the acoustic picture.

A capella

In the course of mankind’s history, musical instruments – once they had been found or invented – always served initiallyto imitate the sound of the human voice; at least that’s what we are told by the musicologists.

In view of this theory, there is a certain strange irony to be detected in the fact that the human voice, having been imitated by instruments in nearly every culture, then set about imitating those very instruments. To draw a rather hair-splitting conclusion, the voice is thus actually imitating itself. But we’re not here to quibble.

As early as the Renaissance, compositions were written for this “instrumental” treatment of the voice, for example the Frenchman Clement Janequin’s famous piece “La Guerre” in which a kind of onomatopoeic battle painting is realized with the exclusive use of vocals.

In our own times, it is above all jazz that has hosted intensive encounters of the singing voice with the sounds of instruments. In their scat vocalizations, female jazz singers such as Ella Fitzgerald (there were male voices too, but far fewer) took their orientation from the wind section of jazz combos, imitating the saxophone and trumpet runs. But it was the American Bobby McFerrin who achieved what may have been the decisive breakthrough for the basic application of the newly available electronic possibilities.

Naturally, McFerrin was not without his infl uences and models; he had Urszula Dudziak and Jeanne Lee to look to, for example, singers who had experimented extensively with effect devices. By the beginning of the 1980s, Bobby McFerrin had access to the loop and echo technology with which he was able to sing in dialog with himself. A whole slew of vocalists followed in his wake, among them a-cappella formations like the American “Bobs,” whose skilful application of microphones created the illusion of an entire big band with percussion, bass, various winds and guitars.

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In comparison to many other a-cappella bands, the “Trinovox” singers Francesco Ronchetti, Riccardo Pucci-Rivola and Julian Spizz pursued a very independent course: Their aim was not the vocal arrangement of pop classics or jazz standards, even if they made ample use of jazz and pop elements in their mix. “Trinovox” revealed its literary ambitions from the very start, setting Japanese haikus, verses from the “Song of Solomon” and poems of Lorca and Eluard to music, vocally encircling the Mediterranean and – in what is perhaps the culmination of their work to date – vocalizing parts of Dante’s “Divine Comedy.”

Nor did “Trinovox” follow the typical a-cappella route from the musical point of view either: They comfortably integrated song forms from the Gregorian style and the Renaissance and played with avant-garde ideas, interspersing their compositions with mouth-watering pop passages all the while. After producing two albums (“Incanto” and “Mediterranea,” both released by JARO), the trio broke up. Now an artist from “Trinovox” trio is back: Julian Spizz.

Written by: Christian Emigholz  

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