Infantjoy, With (Service AV)
A host of innovators from previous decades haunt this album of remixes. Simon Reynolds’s hair stands on end.
‘Tis the season to be spooky. From the label Ghostbox to Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, the notion of spectral music is the meme of the moment. Last year Infantjoy’s debut Where the Night Goes featured a cover of Japan’s synth-noir classic ‘Ghosts’. Now the sequel With arrives bearing a manifesto of sorts in the form of ‘Absence’. ‘It is necessary to speak of the ghost,’ intones Paul Morley, half of Infantjoy alongside ex-Auteur James Banbury. ‘Speak to the spectre, engage it … do not command it … but dance with it … We are always haunted by ghosts and we cannot freely choose what we will be haunted by.’
With is something of a ghost version of Where the Night Goes, encompassing remixes of the latter’s tracks by various kindred, erm, spirits in the electronic field as well as all-new pieces like ‘A Haunted Space’ (sensing a bit of a theme here?). ‘Ghosts’ itself rematerialises in a spare treatment by Populous that gives even more prominence to the gorgeous vocals of Sarah Nixey, whose uncanny Kate Bush-like tones conjure up a parallel pop universe where the raven-haired goddess fronted Japan instead of David Sylvian. Isan’s remake of ‘Composure’ transports the original’s rolling piano chords into a frosted wonderland of electronic tingles and sample-stretched sighs.
Sound’s insubstantiality, the way that music always elude our attempts to fix and define, is a major Morley obsession, and in this spirit With keeps hazy the question of authorship, such that you’re never quite sure who’s remixing whom. ‘Someone With Handshake’, for instance, appears to be a collaboration between two guest producers, Someone and Handshake, with Infantjoy’s involvement quite possibly limited to having convened the encounter. Unless the track’s digitally mangled voice, which sounds like it’s covered with furry spikes, like a crystal forming in a solution, is actually Morley’s. By the track’s end, its heavily processed beats are so encrusted with gnarly texture, the groove almost grinds to a halt.
Infantjoy confirms Morley’s membership of a select group of rock writers who’ve made music without disgracing themselves. A concept album about Erik Satie, Where the Night Goes formed a 20th-century modernism-obsessed continuum with the Art of Noise: the Futurism and Dada coordinates of 1983’s Into Battle, the Debussy-meets-drum’n’bass of AoN’s resurrection in the late Nineties.
Recommended: ‘Ghosts’; ‘Composure’