Sometimes I wish my favorite singers did more sacred music. I don't believe in angels, but if I did they'd have the voice of either Chris Cornell or Jeff Buckley. In fact it does my imagination some good to think of his spirit still singing after he left us this year. With that, I give you his 1992 rendition of "Ave Maria" from 1997, perhaps the most beautiful, heart-rending piece of modern sacred music ever put to record. I've never gotten to know the work of the band Eleven, but their vocalist provides a counterpoint harmony that just destroys me. And then there's Buckley's rendition of Benjamin Britten's "Corpus Christi Carol," haunting in its own evocation: "The falcon hath borne my maid away." The falcon hath borne both Buckley and Cornell away too soon. Their deaths, in 1997 and 2017 respectively, feel vaguely poetic in their symmetry, evocative of the theology and geometry sought by Ignatius J. Reilly, even after his creator gassed himself in his Chevelle in 1969. Birth and death: endpoints to each of our theology and geometry.
Unlike the Cornell and Buckley, most people haven't heard of the evanescent late-Eighties band Hugo Largo. I barely remember them myself, and mostly for this version of "Angels We Have Hear on High" from the aforementioned Winter Warnerland promo. Their four-person lineup was idiosyncratic, comprised of two basses, a violin, and a performance artist whose voice is reminiscent of early Patti Smith, of which she's obviously aware: pay close attention at the end of the song for an Easter egg from Smith's "Gloria (In Excelsis Deo)."