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Thread: Featured Album: News From Babel - Letters Home

  1. #26
    Member Kcrimso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    ^ A bit of a digression, this, but Newsom has mentioned both GGiant and Gryphon, Comus, Incredible String Band, Trees and Mellow Candle (more obviously, perhaps), Vashti Bunyan etc. She used to tote Roy Harper's Stormcock as her single fave record by anyone.
    It is quite easy to hear influence of Stormcock on Newsom's Ys.
    "A waste of talent and electricity." John Peel on ELP

  2. #27
    Member TheH's Avatar
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    Although I find Newsom to be highly interesting musically I'm not a big fan of her voice.

    With Ladys on the harp I would rather go with Loreena McKennitt...

  3. #28
    ^ re: 'thustraman - I partly agree about the overhype thing. I could never sit down and listen to a full triple album of Newsom's, although I actually tried and failed miserably. However, I recently returned to Ys and found it mostly delightful, albeit with the acknowledgement that much of its force rests on the arrangements of Van Dyke Parks and the maestro production of Jim O'Rourke.

    I sold off her debut vinyl, as I simply wasn't listening to it and couldn't get pass the overt self-counsciousness of her image. Caught the last section of a performance by her here in Oslo back in 2005 (or thereabout), and although she's charming and purty as hell and obviously also musically gifted, I couldn't catch on until I got Ys. So I'm sticking to that one.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    ^ re: 'thustraman - I partly agree about the overhype thing. I could never sit down and listen to a full triple album of Newsom's, although I actually tried and failed miserably. However, I recently returned to Ys and found it mostly delightful, albeit with the acknowledgement that much of its force rests on the arrangements of Van Dyke Parks and the maestro production of Jim O'Rourke.

    I sold off her debut vinyl, as I simply wasn't listening to it and couldn't get pass the overt self-counsciousness of her image. Caught the last section of a performance by her here in Oslo back in 2005 (or thereabout), and although she's charming and purty as hell and obviously also musically gifted, I couldn't catch on until I got Ys. So I'm sticking to that one.
    I love Ys but I think that Divers is at least as enjoyable. Her other albums are more hit-and-miss for me.

    I personally don't get that overhype thing at all. Ambitious progressive musician has some attention from media... that is overhype? What! Be happy even once!
    "A waste of talent and electricity." John Peel on ELP

  5. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Kcrimso View Post
    Be happy even once!
    I tried and failed miserably at that too.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  6. #31
    Member Kcrimso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    I tried and failed miserably at that too.
    You downward spiral has started. It needed only one fail.
    "A waste of talent and electricity." John Peel on ELP

  7. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Kcrimso View Post
    I personally don't get that overhype thing at all. Ambitious progressive musician has some attention from media... that is overhype? What! Be happy even once!
    I did not want it to sound like this. Of course it is good that she caught the attention - but there are others, tons of others, that did not get a single drop of coverage from the same media.

    Julia Holter got it, for example - and, in my opinion, more deservedly. You didn't see me complaining there. It is the disproportion of coverage vs artistic worth that gets on my nerves. But of course it is better when the disproportion happens in favor of the artist instead of against him/her.

  8. #33
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    I think the Newsom hype was way too much. I never got into her music - although I tried at the time, thinking that all these renowned music critics must be right in hailing her as a genius. The triple album? You can use this in torture chambers, and with great effect in my opinion. I am not suggesting she is not talented, but the self-indulgence factor cannot be ignored.
    Yup, her voice irritated me on her first two albums to the point of making her debut totally unlistenable. It almost sounded racistly making fun of chinese language/singing.

    by her third, either I'd grown accustomed or she toned down (the latter I think)


    I definitely prefer Newsfrom to Newsom.
    Oooohhh!!!... Even I couldn't have come up with that one.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheH View Post
    Although I find Newsom to be highly interesting musically I'm not a big fan of her voice.

    With Ladys on the harp I would rather go with Loreena McKennitt...
    I'll go with Alice, really.
    Don't need to speak her last name, don't I??

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    ^ re: 'thustraman - I partly agree about the overhype thing. I could never sit down and listen to a full triple album of Newsom's, although I actually tried and failed miserably. However, I recently returned to Ys and found it mostly delightful, albeit with the acknowledgement that much of its force rests on the arrangements of Van Dyke Parks and the maestro production of Jim O'Rourke.

    I sold off her debut vinyl, as I simply wasn't listening to it and couldn't get pass the overt self-counsciousness of her image. Caught the last section of a performance by her here in Oslo back in 2005 (or thereabout), and although she's charming and purty as hell and obviously also musically gifted, I couldn't catch on until I got Ys. So I'm sticking to that one.
    Could never sit through a whole single album of hers, but YS was the closest one I managed with, des pite the accordion.

    Didn't even know she had a fourth album. I guess the over-hype had stopped at that point.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post

    Didn't even know she had a fourth album. I guess the over-hype had stopped at that point.
    And it is her best one so far. In fact it is one of the best albums in the last ten years.
    "A waste of talent and electricity." John Peel on ELP

  10. #35
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    Love this. I think I got it for a fiver from ReR a few years back, along with "Tower". Both fantastique.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  11. #36
    I had to listen to these albums again. And you are right: This is superb!

    Some trivia: The first record, Sirens & Silences/Work Resumed On The Tower, specifies the exact dates of recording, but does not credit the engineer or the recording studio. It just says that it was recorded in London. The reason for this is that Cutler was very frustrated with the studio. He said that he would never ever work there again. The album was remastered at AIR studios by Jon Jacobs, who was Paul McCartneys engineer at the time. But he did some free work for Cutler off hours because he liked the music. I know this because I was invited to the studio with Cutler when they remastered it.

    Letters Home specifies the recording engineer and the studio, but not the exact dates of recording. Also, Dagmar participates on only two tracks. Why? The reason was that Dagmar had backed out of the project. According to a friend close to Cutler she was frustrated that they only used her as an instrument. She wanted to be in a group and have a voice in making decisions. This is the reason why Art Bears also fell apart. So, after making the instrumental backing tracks, Cutler was looking for a replacement. Among them was Umberto Fiori, the singer of the Italian group Stormy Six. But it didn't work. So they ended up using several singers instead. Fortunately, they persuaded Dagmar to sing on two songs.

    Which album is the best is of course a matter of taste, but personally I prefer the first. It has more of the mood and intensity of Art Bears, plus the close vocal harmonies of Dagmar that gives me goosebumps.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    Love this. I think I got it for a fiver from ReR a few years back, along with "Tower". Both fantastique.
    Lovely album. Both still available from ReR for a fiver each!
    The more you know you know you don't know what you know

  13. #38
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    I would rate Art Bears and News From Babel studioalbums like this:

    1. The World as It Is Today *****
    2. Work Resumed on the Tower ****½
    3. Letters Home ****½
    4. Hopes and Fears ****
    5. Winter Songs ****

    (Ratings edited. Rating of Winter Songs corrected.)
    Last edited by Kcrimso; 05-27-2020 at 03:46 PM.
    "A waste of talent and electricity." John Peel on ELP

  14. #39
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trondis23 View Post
    Some trivia:
    Great info, thank you.
    New album THE HIPCRIME VOCAB available now!
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  15. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Kcrimso View Post
    I would rate Art Bears and News From Babel studioalbums like this:

    1. The World as It Is Today *****
    2. Work Resumed on the Tower ****½
    3. Letters Home ****½
    4. Hopes and Fears ****
    5. Winter Songs ***
    Winter Songs was the first album I ever got with either Cutler, Frith or Dagmar, and it entertains a very special place in my heart. NEVER had I heard rock music on a conceptual level as high as this, and I could easily spin it six times in a row and still discover anew on every listen. A seemingly relatively simple song like "The Summer Wheel" is still packed with a set of contrasts and modulations that makes for a finesse which I personally had never expected, and certainly not with any "prog" artist. The same goes for tunes like "Rats & Monkeys", "Winter/War", The Skeleton" and "The Hermit". This was expressionist yet hyper-sophisticated and first/foremost utterly original and creative stuff, completely turning me over. And I'm still on that side, it would appear.

    A masterwork - IMO.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Winter Songs was the first album I ever got with either Cutler, Frith or Dagmar, and it entertains a very special place in my heart. NEVER had I heard rock music on a conceptual level as high as this, and I could easily spin it six times in a row and still discover anew on every listen. A seemingly relatively simple song like "The Summer Wheel" is still packed with a set of contrasts and modulations that makes for a finesse which I personally had never expected, and certainly not with any "prog" artist. The same goes for tunes like "Rats & Monkeys", "Winter/War", The Skeleton" and "The Hermit". This was expressionist yet hyper-sophisticated and first/foremost utterly original and creative stuff, completely turning me over. And I'm still on that side, it would appear.

    A masterwork - IMO.
    Now I FAILED. I meant to give four not three stars to Winter Songs. I like it quite much but have really not connected with it quite as deeply as with other Art Bears albums. The World as It Is Today I just adore and love (almost) as much as Henry Cow albums.
    "A waste of talent and electricity." John Peel on ELP

  17. #42
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Winter Songs was the first album I ever got with either Cutler, Frith or Dagmar, and it entertains a very special place in my heart. NEVER had I heard rock music on a conceptual level as high as this, and I could easily spin it six times in a row and still discover anew on every listen. A seemingly relatively simple song like "The Summer Wheel" is still packed with a set of contrasts and modulations that makes for a finesse which I personally had never expected, and certainly not with any "prog" artist. The same goes for tunes like "Rats & Monkeys", "Winter/War", The Skeleton" and "The Hermit". This was expressionist yet hyper-sophisticated and first/foremost utterly original and creative stuff, completely turning me over. And I'm still on that side, it would appear.

    A masterwork - IMO.
    Their best IMO, but heck the others are great too. The World as It Is Today has the best scream ever recorded in music

  18. #43
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    The World as It Is Today has the best scream ever recorded in music
    Oh man, I know the one you mean. Love Dagmar.
    New album THE HIPCRIME VOCAB available now!
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  19. #44
    Winter Songs is Art Bears best. Mainly because I say so, in my humble opinion.

    One of the things that I don't like about News From Babel Tower is that it sounds pretty close to an Art Bears' output, while it's still not an Art Bears' record. Letters Home you cannot mistake for anything else than what it is. A fine collaboration with a very direct music/philoshophy message. It holds its own distinct ground.
    Last edited by Zappathustra; 05-27-2020 at 05:19 PM.

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick L. View Post
    Good shit.
    Shit! I need to listen to this one. Bought it a year or two ago.

  21. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by StarThrower View Post
    Shit! I need to listen to this one. Bought it a year or two ago.
    Do it!

  22. #47
    I like this better than the Art Bears. Lindsay Cooper brings in her chamber/cabaret influences, so it's more tuneful and perky than what Frith and Cutler did in her absence. It seems that Cutler took his Art Bears elements and channeled them through Cassiber.

  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jones the Jug View Post
    I like this better than the Art Bears. Lindsay Cooper brings in her chamber/cabaret influences, so it's more tuneful and perky than what Frith and Cutler did in her absence. It seems that Cutler took his Art Bears elements and channeled them through Cassiber.
    I think Cassiber is quite different to Art Bears as it is almost completely improvisatory. Some days I like Cassiber more than Art Bears...
    "A waste of talent and electricity." John Peel on ELP

  24. #49
    ^ I'd say Cassiber were at their very best when they improvised - period. Man or Monkey is a complete monster at that, arguably the greatest free-improv rock album I ever heard and - to me - more rewarding than anything Henry Cow (or indeed King Crimson) accomplished through that concept.

    Yet I get what Jones is saying, as there's a striking coldness to some of Cassiber's arranged stuff (A Face We All Know and parts of Perfect Worlds), channelling somewhat the inherent aggression of the Bears. Letters Home, by contrast, is a mostly pessimistic in "tone" but in the end surprisingly uplifting experience in "vibe".

    If that means anything whatsoever, which I'm not entirely sure it does.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post

    I'll go with Alice, really.
    Don't need to speak her last Name
    Turiyasangitananda?

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