CD Review: Alan Moore’s THE BIRTH CAUL

This week’s recommended Album/CD:

THE BIRTH CAUL is the first of the six Alan Moore spoken word collaborations (typically with Bauhaus front man David J and/or Tim Perkins). As a whole the six albums are odd, dark recordings; mixing new wave, gothic, spoken word and the type of mourning, stream of consciousness litany, dissection of our human landscape… that has made Alan Moore, in the graphic medium, unparalleled. All his albums from the best (THE MOON AND SERPENT THEATRE OF MARVELS) to the worst (V FOR VENDETTA, worst is not fair, let’s just say… the least) should be listened to with headphones, or with good speakers in a dark room, holding on tightly to someone you love, while the world around you… darkly turns.

THE BIRTH CAUL is from 1996 and is arguably as a whole, one of the weaker of the six albums, but is just as arguably Moore’s most personal album, dealing as it does with Moore’s generational ruminations, both his eulogy and his diary of his travels from embryonic seas. There are, however, one or two tracks that stand out as pretty darn masterful.

The first track, the eponymous THE BIRTH CAUL is an endlessly haunting ode to Moore’s discovery of his birth caul, among his mother’s belongings. And the affect such a find has on him. “a map of lost interiors, first continents, upon its parchment breath the log of older tides”. The language makes this track… brilliant.

The next notable track, and the one that makes this album a must have is the absolutely addictive THE WORLD’S BLUNT ENGINE. Much love must go to David J for the sound-scape on this one, but the words… the words. What makes Alan Moore (I consider) the Shakespeare of his age is his ability to work in denigrated mediums, yet create insightful, cutting masterpieces and critiques of his age that will reverberate beyond him. It is his ability to use language like a scalpel and to employ it not in the slicing of flesh, but in the revealing of that strange common thing we might call… our humanity.

“We talk of work and films; and of the hurricane make not the least acknowledgement…Have sex each Friday. Screaming rows (fights) each Saturday. We Work and sleep. We work and sleep.”

A hard CD to find, long out of print, but worth the hunting down.

Birth Caul

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