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All City & Allchival

Roger Doyle - Babel

An intimate launch of a special edition 25th anniversary re-release of Roger Doyle’s mammoth BABEL opus.

Returning to the well of Roger Doyle once again, his “Babel” project spans a decade of composition work before its’ initial release in 1999 as a 5CD set. Over 100 pieces and almost 50 collaborators it marks a journey through a virtual tower of Babel with each piece corresponding to a room within an imagined giant tower city. For the 25th Anniversary vinyl edition Doyle has revisited it- remastering it and providing its first vinyl edit - 80 minutes spread across two 180gm LP’s - rounding out the package with extended liner notes and a download code to the full 6 hours.

We’ve previously explored Roger’s Operating Theatre days and the idea for this project came in the early nineteen eighties while Doyle was heavily involved with the experimental theatre group. Working with emerging technologies and across a variety of genres he realised that he would be unlikely to achieve an overarching compositional style. Instead deciding to make a virtue out of the fact that he composed so schizophrenically, he wished to create a musical alphabet out of short abstract sounds with these sounds being analogous to phonemes in speech. With Blade Runner and sci-fi embedded in the zeitgeist of the times he came to the idea of the Tower of Babel as both a futuristic skyscraper and also an embodiment of language.

In the spring of 1990 Babel was finally begun and kept growing until it reached over 6 hours of music and was released in 1999.A large-scale musical structure making use of many technologies and music languages, with each piece of music being thought of as a 'room' or place within an enormous tower city. Each track in the main section corresponds to a virtual sonic architecture. The pieces are divided into two kinds: aural representations of actual spaces like The Dressing Room, The Stairwell and Mr. Brady's Room alongside internalised dream spaces like the Room Of Rhetoric, the Spirit Levels and the Mansard childhood memory room. Listeners can navigate their way differently through this virtual building at each hearing. As a supplement to the Babel Tower KBBL - the fictitious radio station – broadcasts a number of shows. Each has its own style and atmosphere. Collaborating with DJs, actors, writers and singers, KBBL is made to sound like a real radio station with ads, traffic reports and phone-ins.

Examples of the connections within the project can be found via the architecture, where the saxophonist in the off-stage dressing room is rehearsing for her solo in the concert-hall (heard in Pagoda Charm) or the room off the stairwell, where the sounds of piano lessons and apartment life can be heard and the apartment where a muffled KBBL can be overheard At a molecular level The Iron Language Alphabet is a sound alphabet containing tiny fragments of sound representing letters or characters of an alien alphabet. This sound alphabet can be heard scattered through other pieces like The Room of Rhetoric, Pagoda Charm and in KBBL in Johnny’s Body at 002. Other molecular scatterings can be found in Cantilena where two songs sung by Operating Theatre’s Elena Lopez in KBBL are exploded and re-arranged to form new entities.Doyle’s Babel celebrates language - a slight variation on the Biblical morality tale - and musical expression in all its variety.

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