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


News From Babel



4.42 | 51 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 4.5 stars. NEWS FROM BABEL takes over from where ART BEARS left off. The last studio album from ART BEARS was released in 1980 and this is the debut from NEWS FROM BABEL released in 1983. The only member from ART BEARS not here is Fred Frith, so along with Dagmar Krause and Chris Cutler we get Lindsay Cooper and Zeena Parkins, a four piece this time with three of the members being female. Guests include Georgie Born, Phil Minton and Bill Gilonis, and i'm sure all will be familiar with these three if your into this Rio/Avant style of music. Man this ranks right up there with "Winter Songs" as far as i'm concerned and maybe a little better than that one. The original vinyl had a title for each side which is seen in the album's main title.

Up first from the "Sirens And Silences" side we get "Odysseus" and what a way to start the album as we get this dark atmosphere with these haunting and fearful vocals crying out. Suspense takes over after 2 minutes as the vocals and more join in to end it. UNIVERS ZERO would be proud. "Auschwitz/Babel" has these minimal instrumental sounds until before 1 1/2 minutes then it kicks in, vocals too. The tempo picks up without vocals and is avant sounding until it settles back with vocals around the 3 minute mark. "Klein's Bottle" has Dagmar's vocals double tracked and a somewhat disturbing atmosphere. It sounds like processed accordion when the singing stops. Vocals return with bassoon. "Black Gold" sees Dagmar singing in a higher register and man when she stops we get some really interesting instrumental work. The vocals will come and go in this uptempo beauty. "Devils" is a short piece with spoken words, basson and piano early on. Dry Leaf" is my third favourite track. Harp and intricate sounds as almost spoken vocals join in. It picks up and becomes fuller around a minute. Great sound! It settles back late as the vocals return.

Side two is titled "Work Resumed On The Tower" and begins with "Arcades(Of Glass) a top three song for me. Melancholic accordion with strange background sounds to start. The vocals join in after 2 minutes. A calm follows with spoken words, harp and more, then the vocals stop as sparse sounds come and go. It picks up after 3 minutes as we get an urgent instrument section that reminds me of UNIVERS ZERO. The vocals are back a minute later. A calm without vocals follows as themes are repeated. A beautiful soundscape 6 minutes in. "Victory" is my other top three tune. Electric harp to start as vocals join in then drums. Love the imagery here. Guitar helps out then the piano takes over followed by sax and a full sound including bassoon. This is so good! Another change around 2 1/2 minutes as themes are repeated. A calm with distant sounding vocals and trumpet then that full sound returns late. "Anno Mirabilis" ends it as we get this plodding beat with vocals and more. A change follows as we get a cool instrumental section with avant horns. The vocals are back before 3 minutes including Phil Minton singing with Dagmar with passion. A climatic end to this recording.

This is easier to get into than ART BEARS were for me plus we get more variety when it comes to the instruments. A classic Rio album if there ever was one. Bravo!

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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