Review: Monday Platform, Wigmore Hall

juice - Anna Snow, Sarah Dacey and Kerry Andrew

The Times 08.04.2009 (Richard Morrison)

Rarely does the Wigmore pulsate to the music of Japanese hip-hop DJs, recast for female vocal trio. Perhaps it should. Those old string quartets are all very well. But to hear these a cappella voices racing through the culture-hopping hemiolas of Stephen Hatfield’s Three Ways to Vacuum Your House or James Lindsay’s frenetic Sanbiki no kashikoi saru (a homage to DJ Krush, the star of Japan’s drum’n’bass scene) is to be transported to a very different and very exciting universe.

The trio is called Juice. If that implies something fluid, fruity and refreshing, it is apt. Their repertoire extends from classy takes on jazz standards and dark folk songs (Sarah Dacey’s Cruel Mother sent a chill up the spine) to longer pieces using avant-garde vocal techniques - patter, huffing, puffing, beatboxing - that make Stockhausen or Berio sound prehistoric.

Gabriel Prokofiev’s Simple Songs for Modern Life, settings of exasperated exclamations of urban angst, was perhaps over-extended, though hypnotically patterned. But I loved Robert Fokkens’s Words, which was just that: each song a surreal deconstruction of a single word, drawn from the various native languages of this young South African. The last was “sheepdip”, which triggered a hilarious fantasia of baas and bleats. Juice, who do nearly everything from memory and with perfect intonation, are the 21st century’s answer to the Swingles or King’s Singers - and deserve to be as famous.