I’m a weirdo but I know what I like. And one of these things is throaty bass singing that borders on the creepy. Which is why one of my all-time favorites is “Alte clamat Epicurus” from Carmina Burana in the Clemencic Consort rendition. While other versions of the song are chorals that sound like anything else you could expect from medieval music, this one, sung by an unknown bass, has the tempo of James Blake, the conviction of Rammstein and the sensuality of Isaac Hayes. The song itself is a drinking song, and a parody, a subversion of a religious song in which the pleasures of eating are blessed instead of the traditional holy spirits. Which is even more curious, because the whole Carmina Burana cycle was composed by Benedectine monks (who, surely, knew how to have a good time, and how to do brilliant satire against themselves: “My belly is my God,” goes the song). Anyway, listening to the sounds of a medieval frat party (with burping!) is my kind of foray into classical music. In fact I adore the whole four volumes of Rene Clemencic’s Consort’s revival of the medieval masterpiece, which has a lot more humor and irreverence in more subtle forms. I recently got all four on vinyl, and I’m so happy, because drunken monks were the original OGs of music.
Carmina Burana by Anonymous Benedectine monks of 12th-13th century
Clemencic Consort, René Clemencic – Conductor
Released in 1975 by Harmonia-Mundi