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News From Babel - Sirens And Silences / Work Resumed On The Tower CD (album) cover


News From Babel



4.41 | 50 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars NEWS FROM BABEL was a short lived group emerging in the early 80s when the great drought of prog music was tempted by the pop side of music leaving scant few strange musical entities daring to create such bizarre music in the avant prog arena. Of course this group contained members from RIO / avant prog veterans Henry Cow and the Art Bears. After the demise of both these groups was the third installment of that sound and it made its debut on SIRENS AND SILENCES / WORK RESUMED ON THE TOWER. The two titles actually stand for two suites that originally took up one side each on the vinyl LP. On the newer CD versions it isn't so clear where one ends and the other begins but it is all strange and interesting at the same time. The music like the predecessors takes the dissonance and chamber music sounds of Henry Cow but NEWS FROM BABEL adds a little cabaret sound to the mix.

Lindsay Cooper really brings the Art Bears sound to this group lending a strong resemblance to her former group, however the real difference between this group and those that spawned this brand of avant prog is that while in Henry Cow and Art Bears the instruments and vocals seemed to be juxtaposed as to create the most alienating effect possible, in NEWS FROM BABEL the group succeeds in finding a balance between these avant-garde elements and an accessible catchiness not usually associated with this type of avant-rock. The tracks are very strange and bizarre but at the same time have an underlying playfulness and giddiness to them that make them a real pleasant listening experience. This probably comes from the influence of Dagmar Krause and Chris Cutler who spent time in one of the greatest progressive pop bands ever, Slapp Happy. The seductive harp of Zeena Parkins also plays a role in smoothing the whole thing out. But have no fear, if you want strange music, this is the real thing. I'm quite surprised this isn't more known as it really is one of the more accessible albums I have heard in this subgenre and an excellent place to start out in the strange world of avant-prog.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |


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