earthly delights archive


Nocturnal Emissions
Invocation Of The Beast Gods

Staaltape, STCD006 (1989)
Track listing

INVOCATIO BEASTIA DEI (Invocation of the Beast Gods) is a well-paced and deftly layered collage based on location recordings of night creatures – bats, owls, foxes, insects and sea animals. Like many of Nocturnal Emissions’ previous recordings, it combines natural with synthetic sounds in a wholly musical blend. The key to the success of this disc is its rhythm. Every sound has its own looped pattern (many of the sounds are looped), and when these different but complimentary patterns are combined, a dense and enticing aural landscape emerges. This is not empty new age music, meandering, slapdash sound collage, or low-budget field recording, but a meticulously laid out and painstakingly arranged musical environment.

Neil Strauss
Ear Magazine

Not being able to read Latin, I am unable to make sense of the sleeve notes to Invocation of the Beast Gods, or Invocatio Bestiae Dei as it is alternately titled. Being sort of familiar with Nocturnal Emissions' back catalogue. and the esoteric ways in which the mind of Nigel Ayers appears to work, I believe the cover might describe the recording process of this album, which I suspect involves the sampling of noises made by furry animals. Why? because NE have done this sort of thing before, notably on Mouths Of Babes, which built some pretty dense atmospheres from the gurgling of sprogs. Here only some of the sounds are identifiable as being of animal origin, so don't buy this expecting to get Percy Edwards.

Right from their very early issues, Nocturnal Emissions recordings have a curious quality that sometimes suggests the music just occurs of its own accord, without human involvement on a level any greater than that of a reporter capturing the moment on tape. Even their mildly anomalous 'pop' phase - which gave us the bizarre spectacle of Mr Ayers singing rhyming lines over dance beats, and making announcements like 'this is the big sound of Nocturnal Emissions coming out of your speakers' - seemed faithful to their sense of ego-free reportage. True to this theory, one could almost say Beast Gods was written by the sampled wildlife.

As one might imagine, there's a lot of repetition and looping, and it's extremely relaxing, but happily remains too interesting to be insulted by the word 'ambient'. If there is any intention, as the title seems to imply, to capture the raw wonder of the natural world, then it succeeds admirably in a field where countless peddlers of new age aural laxatives have failed dismally.

War Arrow
Sound Projector 5

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