Easy as Pi

Album : Easy as Pi
Artist : Simple Harmonic Motion
Genre : a cappella, college
Campus : WPI
Review by : Ken Gagne

Easy as Pi

"Singin' soul to soul… brother to brother… acappella: sounds good to me!"As well it should. Simple Harmonic Motion, the WPI men's acappella group and a subset of the Glee Club, recently released their second CD, "Easy as Pi". Anyone who's ever heard the group sing will expect an album of extraordinary quality; anyone who hears the CD will get all they anticipated, and more.SHM is composed of fourteen men. It evolved from the group Baker's Dozen, which became SHM and student-directed when Matt Eetore '95 became director in 1994. From 1995 to 1998, SHM was directed by Mike Driscoll '97, and the reins currently rest in the hands of Mike Wheeler '99."Easy as Pi" contains ten songs by the 96/97 group, and eight from 97/98, with a bonus track of a live recording from Acappella Fest '98. The songs, like the rest of SHM's repertoire, range from music from the 30's to the doo-wop of the 50's to modern acappella and rock, and are sung by a variety of voices, both new and old.The ever-present, effervescent tenor Jon Reynolds has solos in two songs: "Naturally", by Huey Lewis, and "Change In My Life", from "Leap of Faith". Both songs are about love: his life without and with the woman in his life, respectively. He also appears in a duet with Jay LeBlanc in "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me", by Billy Joel.

When it comes to singing, Swiss tenor Jurg Zwahlen proves not so neutral, diving into his numbers with enthusiasm and relish. "Aquarius", from "Hair", has him in a stint as a soprano before settling into a lower rock-and-roll sequence. His own love number arrives as "Wonderful World", a song of the intellectually-challenged longing for love – something to which all of us at WPI can relate.

Other soloists include Ethan Deneault, Chris Hamel, Brandon Gaylord, and graduates Jeff Alderson, Alan Head, Brian Steiner, and Mike Driscoll. One song in particular deserves mention: "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", by Freddie Mercury. Sung by Brian Donnelly, it is the only song on the album with a freshman soloist. If this performance is any indication, I'm sure we'll be hearing more of him on future records.

But perhaps the best part of any SHM number is not just the soloists listed above or even the tune itself, but how all fourteen singers complement each other. The vocal percussionists, the background support, and all the others contribute to a full sound, making it truly a group effort. In that sense, there are no soloists, and every song benefits for it.

Those on-campus people interested in purchasing a CD can email shm@wpi.edu. Off-campus individuals may use the online order form by pointing their web browsers at http://www.wpi.edu/~shm/form.html. "Easy as Pi" is available for $10, as is "Singin' 'Til it Hertz", SHM's 1996 CD. Both CDs can be had for the low cost of $16.

CDs are also available at any of SHM's performances.

If you need to contact SHM for more information, call (508) 831-5816 and leave a message, or use email.

This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2001, 2002 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission. Original Publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 29-Sep-98