Gregorian chants became a thing very briefly in the early 1990s, when German electronic group Enigma combined them with the Soul II Soul “Keep On Movin’” drum loop and that everpresent shakuhachi sample for “Sadness Part One”. And then that song was *everywhere* for the first half of the 90s, giving rise to chillout music like the Orb and The Future Sound of London.
Gregorian music faded away as a trend in dance music, but it’s never really gone away. Bolstered by some claims that the soothing voices help increase alpha waves in the brain, groups like Gregorian (created by Enigma’s Frank Peterson) set about arranging pop songs in the Gregorian style, starting in 1999.
Others have followed suit, or should I say followed cowl (such as Auscultate, which created the Queen cover below).
But Gregorian (the group) is the king of them all, and Petersen’s project has gone on to sell over 5.5 million albums.
Corny or not, the project is immensely popular worldwide, and has produced ten “Masters of Chant” albums, along with Christmas CDs and such. And while our current pop stars have to get into athletic condition for their Vegas-like shows, there’s something to be said for a group of blokes just standing around on stage singing in unison like they’re in a crypt. Looks like a decent gig. Here's a full concert:
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.