“Floret Silva”– Kay Hoffman

A bit of an oddball–but a good time, nonetheless. This is a record that’s all over the place–at times silly, scary, and beautiful–but which still manages to build up an exotic sonic world. Minimalist composer Kay Hoffman traveled to Italy in the mid-70s, meeting Welsh soprano Jacqueline Darby and Gaio Chiochio and Arturo Stalteri of Pierrot Lunaire. The result of their collaboration is a melange of medieval music, jazz, and 70s psychedelic folk that feels strangely dated and avant-garde at the same time. This record was intended to be released in the late 70s, but the label backed away from it at the last minute, and it ultimately wasn’t released until 1985–making it a misfit in any singular time period.

Both Hoffman and Darby sing on this record– in Latin, of course. There are beautiful sections of troubadour-like flute, moody oboe, field recordings of crickets, and bong-like bubbling. “Exorcism” includes demonic Latin incantations and echoing laughter, with a gorgeous tinkling bell and piano motif at the end. Throughout the record, harpsichord, classical guitar, flutes and horns (“Sonus Dulcis Lyrae”) lead to a familiarly medieval sound, but psychedelic guitar, jazz drums and synth riffs (“Langueo Vacillantis”) plonk it firmly into 1970s and beyond. “Mai Tanz” straight-up rips, in a court jester kind of way. I listen to this song really loud, and you should, too.

There are times where the fantasy built up by these sounds is pushed a little too far, and it can take you out of the world it is leading you into. At it’s best, however, it’s a gorgeous experiment in revisiting the music of the past with the knowledge and bias of the present. Listen here.