Ready II Fly – Naturally 7

2 stars (out of 5)

1

It’s an interesting idea but, unfortunately, interesting doesn’t always equate with essential. Naturally 7 are 7 guys (amazingly enough)who perform as an a cappella human beatbox ensemble in a style that they prefer to call vocal play. They are 7 very talented people and the arrangements they construct are very impressive given the self-imposed limitation of using only human voices. The CD sleeve notes emphasise this in a way that’s reminiscent of early Queen albums (“…and nobody played synthesiser”), which later backfired on the band.

The main problem with this album (and any studio albums from Naturally 7) is that this is a long way from their natural medium of live performance and never has a chance of sounding convincing. It’s a bit like listening to a studio album by a great ventriloquist – you know that they’re very talented but this isn’t the way to prove it. The studio creates the opportunity to add a bit of technological trickery to augment the clever arrangements, but also creates a permanent record of a performance. The downside of this is that elements of the live performance which aren’t 100% effective are glossed over and forgotten while anything on the album can be heard again and again. Anything sounding slightly suspect (for example, the beatbox version of Phil Collins’ big drum break in “Feel It (In The Air Tonight)”) can be isolated for criticism.

This all sounds incredibly negative, but the real message is that the way to appreciate Naturally 7 is to watch them live without all of the technology in the way.