earthly delights archive
The second of a new (and, not to mention, very expensive) breed of NE releases. Wrapped in a diaper (that’s a nappy for us UK peasants) are the vocals emitted from the chords of three infants, ageing up to eighteen months, sampled and arranged against a varying array of synthesised and percussive sounds.
Track titles correspond to the youngsters’ recorded parts. From EEEURR, through GOORARUH, UHUHUHUH to OOERDN.
A booklet, contained within, sets out to explain the meaning of these child utterances. Initially the reasoning of the first cries at birth, the effects of outside noises and many other fascinating items. Even "infant humour"!
Mouth of Babes is very much a labour of love (sic) in which every care and attention to detail has been installed.
In an edition of 333 copies – recommended listening – a beast in the making?
It looked so innocent at first. Picture of a shrine to a saintly infant on the cover, titled to suggest holiness and docility, it sat in the CD review drawer like an orphan on a doorstep. It needed attention, understanding, a sensitive ear. So I adopted it.
Little did I know I’d just brought Damien into my apartment.
Titles like Eeeeurr, Lleeehh, and Gooraruh should’ve been omens – hellspawn probably would make those noises – but instead I got lulled by the inlay booklet. It lured me with bits of info on babies’ spontaneous singing and vocal capabilities, fired my curiosity when it said the assembled instrumentals were "based on the song babbles and sound effect made by infants, to create a new form of music".
Then it scared the living hell out of me. This, friends is not Lullabyes from the Womb.
It’s an industrial soundscape, where tape loops, found noises and mechanical dronings run free, unfettered by normal song structures or any human voice older than 1. Looped into rhythm tracks, or distorted into the lowing of Satan’s cattle, these infants sounds move Mouth of Babes way beyond ambient into…what?
Eerie, unsettling – arcane, even – and too far into the mystic for "normal" listening. Its incantations are uniform, repetitive and totally impenetrable for anyone out for nifty "alternative" "music". It demands effort, attention and imagination, and it’ll frustrate anyone who tries otherwise: dancing or having sex to it won’t cut it (I know. I’ve run control tests) (With or without restraining device – Inquisitive ed.) and merely listening through all 70 minutes borders on ritualistic.
And maybe ritual is what this album is about: the booklet closes off with an "Occultistic Note" of suggestions on designing magickal systems and warnings against "parasites and vampies of Control". And maybe there does have to be some mystical communion before Mouth of Babes will speak its secrets.
And maybe – just maybe – I’d be willing to shed the spiritual sweat to get to it.