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Infant Joy

Service AV / 2006

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It’s hard to escape your past. And it’s even harder if you’re an ex-music journalist trying to make it as a musician. Remember Gay Dad, or Gold Blade? But perhaps hacks with melodic ambition are a less worrying prospect when we’re concerned with genres as esoteric as, say, ambient electronica. Infantjoy consist of ex-Auteurs man James Banbury and – uh oh – celebrated ex-NME writer Paul Morley. Fortunately this isn’t Morley’s first foray into sound-making – he cut his musical teeth as part of early 80s techno-pop outfit Art of Noise.

Infantjoy’s debut, Where the Night Goes, adopted and adapted melodies by influential French classical composer Erik Satie, a contemporary of Debussy’s. This, Infantjoy’s second effort, purportedly aims to do a similar job on Where the Night Goes, coming up with a series of revisions, adjustions and reflections. Kaiser Chiefs it ain’t.

To make their futuristic sounds, Morley and Banbury traipse off to a studio at the bottom of a garden. The choice of location – a technological space within the natural world – is nicely symbolic of some of the music they’ve created for With. Composure With sounds like the soundtrack to a stroll through a rainforest, but a rainforest where all the insects have been replaced by whirring metal gadgets, and the twinkling stars are flickering LEDs. Perversely, the bucolically-titled ‘Blossom On A Stem’ evokes nothing of the kind.

Elsewhere, brilliant atmospheric opener ‘Leaving Somewhere With Someone’ is reminiscent of DJ Shadow, featuring a soothing but ominous piano melody which weaves in and out of beats both springy and sharp. Such remarkable percussion is representative of the rest of the album, with cricket-like clicks nimbly skipping over hollow sinking timpani. It’s the kind of noise you imagine Thom Yorke’s brain making, and you wonder how the hell they did it.

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When we get to the three tracks featuring vocals (or voices), ‘A Haunted Space’, ‘Absence and Ghosts (With Populous)’, the supernatural theme introduced gives the record a new facet. Suddenly, the white noise becomes something more, otherworldly, as if picked up by a medium and the haunting melodies gain an added eeriness.

Despite the cleverness, the doomy mood evoked by radio static and whispering voices will be tough listening for anyone but die-hard white noise fans. This is not a record to stick on if you’re trying to seduce someone. Unless, of course, the apple of your eye is a deranged android from the future – or a sinister ghoul from the past.

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