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

SIRENS & SILENCES/WORK RESUMED ON THE TOWER/LETTERS HOME

News From Babel

RIO/Avant-Prog


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5 stars Flippin ingenious, sparse, poetic, gorgeous and deep.

This CD combines both News From Babel 45 LP's, featuring vocals of Dagmar Krause and Robert Wyatt. I only ever had the LP of Work Resumed On The Tower, so finding it combined with more great music I'd never heard was a bonus.

There are moments of both lightness and heaviness on this CD, from airy harp to penetrating bass and percussion. For people who like their music passionate, inventive and startling, News From Babel is an important touchstone in the history of modern music, despite their relative obscurity.

Report this review (#102691)
Posted Monday, December 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
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.

The ReR label has reissued both albums in a 2 on 1 retrospective, gave it illustrations (intriguing and appropriate drawings for the debut and haunting photos for the second) makes it the obvious acquisition. Please read the individual album reviews to get fuller impressions.

Report this review (#122626)
Posted Thursday, May 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars News From Babel. What an accomplishment! This review is really for both works, as they fit so nicely together. In fact, if you don't have the recently released "box set," it is worth every penny as the remastering is beautifully handled.

The thing about the entire family of Henry Cow, Art Bears, and the final statement here in this News From Babel, is that the music is so well "contained" and so very personal. The News From Babel works are small and tight, and every note is perfectly designed and executed. The music needs to exist and they conservatively give it to us.

With no real disrespect intended, as I absolutely love the direction that RIO has gone, but really, this and it's predecessors define this slice (which is quite different from the other RIO Masters from mainland Euro, UZ, Art Zoyd, etc....) of the Rock In Opposition pie.

I believe that Lindsay Cooper is one of the most talented artist to ever grace us with their music. Along with drum and lyric master Chris Cutler, the unbelievably talented Zena Parkins and the unique genius of the goddess Dagmar Krause, News From Babel made the final Henry Cow incarnation a perfect finale.

Report this review (#408800)
Posted Sunday, February 27, 2011 | Review Permalink

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