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Composure With sounds like the soundtrack to a stroll through a rainforest, but a rainforest where all the insects have been replaced by whirring metal gadgets, and the twinkling stars are flickering LEDs.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.
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.