Last year they won an ARIA Best Jazz Album Award for their collaboration with James Morrison, but now in 2011 Australia's leading a cappella vocal quartet The Idea of North has returned to their roots with the sublime Extraordinary Tale, an album that can melt the heart and dazzle the senses. 'Extraordinary Tale is an instrument-free zone,' jokes the group's alto Naomi Crellin who did many of the arrangements of hits like Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now, Sting's La Belle Dame Sans Regrets and the Beatles' in My Life. 'Our fans loved the previous album where we used instruments for the first time, but this time we've gone back to our concert repertoire and the songs that are requested time and time again by our fans.' in an innovative effort to raise funds for the project, the group's legions of fans contributed via the Pledge Music scheme, with the group repaying their investment not just with the album itself, but with other value-adding projects ranging from dinner with the band right up to a private performance in contributors' homes. The scheme allowed the quartet to record and produce the CD themselves, using non-traditional recording venues and production techniques. As always, bass Andrew Piper provided virtuosic mouth-percussion that gives the sense of a built-in rhythm section, but it's in the gorgeous, rich vocal sound of the full ensemble where The Idea of North always shines. Tracks like Stevie Wonder's Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer and Sinead O'Connor's in This Heart are particularly moving, and the artwork for the album will inevitably capture attention as well.
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