Mother Goose’s Melody: Or Sonnets For The Cradle

Andrew Liles

Mother Goose’s Melody: Or Sonnets For The Cradle

Year: 2005
Label: ICR/Klanggalerie (ICR 47/ GG91)
Format: CD

The Milky Way seen through the Cripple’s Telescope
Orville’s Engastrimythic Divinations
Safety in Numbness
Gilberts Potoroo
One Misty Moisty Morning
£53,717.00 (Still Listless and Rising)
Cannula Tubes as fine as straw
Quivering Umbels
£314.00 (Floating)
The Presbytery Has Lost Nothing Of Its Charm - Nor The Garden Its Brightness
Mechanical substitute for the Arm

Lord Bath, The Penthouse, Longleat, UK, 2005. Photo by Liles.

Narration throughout this recording is by Alexander Thynn, 7th Marquess of Bath.


The Representative of the Rubber People
Mother Goose winged it’s way towards me and landed with a honk on my doorstep this frosty morning. After wringing it’s neck and plucking the down off I stuck it in the oven at 190º and sat down to eat some Weetabix. I’ve got a lot of Mr.Liles stuff and I must admit I have enjoyed listening to most of his releases. But on Mother Goose our favourite Jeremy Clarkson lookalike has totally exceeded my expectations. This one is definitely his most beautiful release yet. From beginning to end the aural journey takes the form of a ghost train ride of epic proportions encompassing all the dark places a childs mind tends to inhabit. Sounding like a minty breathed Uncle Monty, Lord Bath’s excellently spoken nursery rhymes add the seasoning here. More plummy than Edward Fox sucking a pebble. Steve Stapleton may get the kudos for his releases in this territory but Mr. Liles has provided a template here from which all of us can benefit….and enjoy. A breath of fresh hair on the bald pate of dada. My opinion in a cliche would be “From the sublime to the ridiculous…” but that does not do Mother Goose justice. It is the perfect soundtrack for a mushroom trip to Brighton Pavillion. If you listen closely you might hear some seagulls here too and the Weetabix never tasted better.
“Georgie Porgie pudding & pie…
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play
He kissed them too, he was funny that way.”

Written by Lucas Schleicher
Wednesday, 25 January 2006
Little doubt can be cast upon the fact that nursery rhymes are of a rather Grimm history. As innocent as they may sound, the most unusual of subjects find their way into these couplets and tales of misguided, punished, or otherwise confused youth. Andrew Liles, with the help of Lord Bath and Thighpaulsandra collaborator Sion Orgon, has recorded the audible equivalent of that awkward and dark thread that plays inside the mind of every child’s sleeping head.
Lord Bath is, so far as I can tell, an English essayist, painter, poet, and intellect of aristocratic background. His work covers everything from Kama Sutra and religion to speeches on the importance of art to essays on world government, warfare, and punishment. As such, his willingness to work with Andrew Liles makes a lot of sense. Both artists exhibit a body of work as widely varied as it is perverse and alluring. Mother Goose’s Melody… is Liles’ extension into the realm of nursery rhymes. Using Lord Bath’s background as a poet and speaker, Liles employs him to perform various rhymes after which an accompanying piece of music plays out the details of that rhyme. The result is a little unsettling, exaggerating, or perhaps highlighting, the drama and terror that some nursery rhymes keep hidden in their simple machinations. Though Lord Bath and Liles may not employ any of these rhymes directly (such as “ashes, ashes, we all fall down”), the line that they draw between the words in the poetry and the music is too direct to ignore. Though the music is often peaceful, Liles’ now familiar and twisted perspective often lurks just below the sweet melodies and synthetic dances. No matter how appeasing the music may seem, there’s always a sixth sense informing me that a Victorian terror lay somewhere just below the surface.
Liles’ familiarity with the ignored is more evident than ever on this release. A interest in ventriloquism, animal surgery or testing, plant life, and prosthetics all make their way into the song titles. More often than not, the titles add a dimension of strangeness to the already odd compositions and revel in the unusual synthesis generated. “Cannula Tubes as Fine as Straw” is a lovely guitar piece that strolls lazily through a hillside during the spring. The name of the song and the rhyme that accompanies it, however, places a farmhouse in the distance with a dark shed where animals stand, cannula sticking out of them in bizarre arrangements. The trickle of water and the tearing sounds that appear in the song then become appalling and the entire piece changes itself from a meditative work into a song about pain or perhaps a song about a very confused maid. The possibilities are endless as Liles has managed to paint sounds more expertly than ever on this release. His compositions reflect eras, places, ideas, and nightmares more keenly than on any of his other releases. Perhaps it is the topic of this album that has made that possible; the deeply ingrained memories of childhood mixing with Liles’ love for the absurd, the repulsive, and the unexplainable might be more inspirational than any historical, theoretical, or geographic origin that Liles’ has played with before.
This album is far more listenable than Liles’ last solo effort, the labyrinthine New York Doll. The music is far more akin to the melodic and often emotional My Long Accumulating Discontent. Where New York Doll harnessed its energy in the fractured essence of its many samples and locations, Mother Goose’s Melody… finds all the power it needs in the atmospheres and songs Liles has crafted. With that in mind, this recording has deepened a split in Liles’ output. On one hand there is the Andrew Liles that works intimately with drone and natural instruments. He combines the two, uses them to recall old places, forgotten ideas, and possibly to reveal a disturbing underworld of subconscious desires and bottled up evil. On the other hand, there is the Liles who plays with sounds and draws them all together with a concept laid out before hand. New York Doll and Aural Anagram/Anal Aura Gram fit this bill with the bulk of their sound being drawn from some concept, instead of the other way around. What makes Mother Goose’s Melody… such a solid album is that Liles has allowed his influences to flow both ways. That is to say, there isn’t just a concept informing his music here, the music is also informing the concept, perhaps simultaneously. That not only strengthens the album’s music, but it feeds the ideas behind the recordings and makes them more intimate with the material everyone hears. It makes drawing connections easier and more fun. In turn, the record is more fun to listen to and twice as effective at convincing anybody that this sound world is real and directly related to the one we live in.

Should you try to lull your baby to sleep by playing this record, be ready for strange surprises when he’ll be growing up as Andrew Liles has written a series of warped melodies and droning songs, mixing them with more “traditional” narration taken from classic children literature to hassle your aural balance with this bunch of contrasting elements. Backward voices, animal sounds, morphing synthesizer waves and guitars create a fabulous world where nothing is like one could expect – and even when it is, there’s always a lurking fear of something suddenly coming out from nowhere to change the rules of the game, therefore destroying every notion of comprehension that our brain might have been memorizing during the process. Those who follow Colin Potter’s label will find their natural environment here, although a little submerged by bubbling oleaginous waters; make no mistake about it, this is not some sort of luxury joke for kids, instead it is an album whose peculiar shape and delicious craftmanship will bewitch you at first listen.
Massimo Ricci

Vorliegendes Album formiert sich aus knapp einem Dutzend lose zusammenhängender, lebhafter Klangfragmente, welche als Tracks von moderater Spieldauer jeweils zu Beginn eine exzentrisch-humorvolle narrative Einfassung oder Skizzierung durch von Lord Bath rezitierte nursery rhymes, die man sich vielleicht als in Richtung Abzählreime bastardierte Wiegenlieder vorstellen darf, erfahren. So gesehen kreist »Mother Goose’s Melody …« gelassen um eine Schubladisierung als Konzeptalbum und überrascht als eine Art abseitig-eklektisches Ambient-Patchwork aus Field Recordings, Drones und Loops, durch das sich überraschende Soundfragmente und schüchterne Melodien in einer angedunkelten Atmosphäre pirschen. Andrew Liles, unterstützt von Sion Orgon sowie dem bereits erwähnten Lord Bath, präsentiert sich hier von seiner besten Seite, indem er unter Berücksichtigung feiner Details großartige, fesselnde Soundscapes, Humor und eine packende Atmosphäre einander näher bringt. Denn trotz einer gewissen augenscheinlichen Divergenz oder auch, aber nicht negativ: Zerissenheit legt die Musik niemals diesen faszinierenden Duft zwischen unheimlich und verdreht ab. Und so gleicht das Hörerlebnis einem vertagträumten Schweben durch eine Abfolge unsicherer Dämmerzustande, einer Klangreise zwischen Kindheitserinnerungen, Déjà-vu und Wegdriften, an die man sich danach nur noch fragmentarisch erinnern kann. Was naturgemäß als Aufforderung zu wiederholten Aufenthalten in diesen großartigen Soundscapes gelesen werden kann.
Tobias Bolt

The latest project from the fabulous Andrew Liles is dedicated to the notion that nothing good ever happens in a nursery rhyme, even when enunciated with such gleeful relish by guest narrator Alexander Thynn, the seventh Marquess of Bath. Scratching kittens have to be placated, half-awake children are left to wander around the town at night, and we all know about the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. Aided in a couple of places by Sion Orgon from Thighpaulsandra’s group, Liles takes his time over teasing out the darker strands to be found woven into childhood’s brighter moments, carefully stacking eerily sustained tones, desiccated samples and disembodied voices against Lord Bath’s exuberant delivery. The results feel like a compendium of forgotten folklore awaiting its future.

This item surely has some classic narrative English literature association with it, performed and written by Lord Bath, who has a really pleasant and effective narrative voice. This voice-with-electronica brought back in mind the contemporary electronic composer Paulin’s Oliveros and her “Beautiful Soop”, and her recording from 1966 based upon a text by Lewis Caroll (-an association I had before with Thighpaulsandra’s 2005 release-). The nursery rhyme poetry as well might have something of an Alice in Wonderland world in them, as being told by Mother Goose (who stands for a known symbol of a mother narrating fairytales to her children), and as being part of a different dimension with a surreal reflection of the harder to understand parts from the adult’s world, seen from an innocent vision ; this vision might find many experienced communicative situations surreal or at least incomprehensible or odd, or just makes spontaneous humorous reactions. The experimental ambient music to it is really beautiful and expresses its own world too of reflections. I already mentioned Thighpaulsandra in the beginning of this review. It seemed that Sion Orgon, from this group, collaborated here with extra instrumentation. Part of the instrumentation is acoustic (double bass, guitar, and acoustic sound mixes and loops). Some of the voice recordings are remixed backwards. In total this sounds like a work of art that listens like a book with music, with a sometimes relatively simple but always crafty and effective body.

Brighton based Andrew Liles has been releasing his own brand of surreal sound collage for around ten years now. He has released a wide range of Cd-Rs vinyl singles and full length albums, and Mother Goose Melody or Sonnets for the Cradle is his latest.
The first interesting thing to note about this album is the presence of the eccentric Alexander Thynn who happens to be the 7th Marquess of Bath. His narration of various nursery rhymes throughout the album add an extra element of the bizarre to an already surreal and curious collection.
The first track titled The Milky way seen through the Cripples Telescope is a minimal affair that builds like much of Liles material from simple tonal elements that create an uneasy droning miasma through which other piece of sound fall through. There are hints of very creepy synthesizer melody that emerge from the fog and have me thinking of those 70s horror movies with Peter Cushing freaking everybody out with his endless stare.
There seems to be a central theme of nursery rhymes, children’s fantasies and other curiosities throughout the album. Safety in Numbers begins with singing children and the Marquess of Bath before entering into a crackling vinyl montage that brings to mind that cavernous depths of The Caretakers ballroom nightmares. There is something fundamentally unsettling about hearing this sort of forgotten old time music run through the mill of modern technology. Voices from the past and all that.
Gilberts Potoroo has a similar undertow and augments the mood with more low end drone electronics and plucking strings. Sounds of the netherworld with Nurse with wound like tapings scrapings and what sounds like a cartoon character madly running round in circles.
One Misty Moisty Morning is a purely tonal piece that at times sounds like a number or organs playing in an old abandoned church. Slow chords and creeping melodies that both lull the mind and unnerve the soul.
Cannula Tubes as fine as Straw is my stand out track from the album. Field recordings and guitar are the primary sound sources and they mix to create an atmosphere that draws you in, conjuring up images of lonely towns in green fields and children playing in the sunshine. But if this sounds all a bit idyllic be warned that the repetitive strums and sounds of water hint of an impending danger and fear on the wind. Sion Orgon of Thighpaulsandras band pops up on the more noisy Quivering Umbels and L314.00 (Floating), where he sprinkles flecks of sound from the Audiomulch sound processing software. The final track Mechanical Substitute for Arms is a long droning tonal workout that leads the listener back to the surface after a trip through a childlike underworld of dread and candy.
Much of what Liles does on this record can be compared to the work of Steven Stapleton, Irr.App.(Ext) or others. But Liles certainly has his own take on things. His fascination seems to be primarily with mood and atmosphere rather than creating the most strange and complex mix of sounds he can find. As a result this album has a direct simplicity to it that gets into your head and is very difficult to remove once the music has come to an end. A deeply unnerving record. – Duncan Simpson