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News From Babel - Letters Home CD (album) cover

LETTERS HOME

News From Babel

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.52 | 20 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars NFB can be consider as Henry Cow Mk4, Slapp Happy Mk3 or Art Bears Mk2, as the continuation between the projects is rather obvious and even constant. Taking off where Art Bears left off, the appearance of Bostonian Zeena Parkins has changed the musical bents as well. With the debut album SAS/WROTT (made from two chapters), Dagmar Krause's voice is a strong reminder and link to art Bears but inevitable Slapp Happy as well. In the second album, Letters Home, Robert Wyatt takes the main vocals duties and is doubled by Sally Potter. But of course this project is yet another spin-off from Henry Cow's wind and keys mistress Lindsey Cooper (the lone composer) and percussion master Chris Cutler (the lyricist). The music is severe yet playful, cacophonous but also unexpectedly sensuous at times, abusing unusual chord progressions and odd-time signatures, shrieky vocal squeals to make haunting chamber music, nicely complemented by Zeena Parkin's harp.

Some two years later, NFB recorded their second album, Letters Home in a relatively similar musical direction, but Robert Wyatt sang most of the songs, while Sally Potter took over the female voice. Indeed the album is more accessible partly due to Wyatt's voice, but altogether better songwriting and wilder imagination in their adventures. Jumpy and playful Heart Of Stone (my fave) and Banknote, a chilling Moss, a semi-ragtime, semi-swing Dragon At The Core, a great Waited, a tense Fast Food, and the glorious blood-curdling finale Late Evening

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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