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V/A - Language Removal Services

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Artist: V/A

Album: Language Removal Services

Label: Language Removal Services

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

Language Removal Services is a concept based on the idea of static and ecstatic language. I don't really get the theoretical side of it, and to like this record i don't expect that I have to, but it seems to mean that when people speak, they produce both linguistic and non-linguistic sound. The LRS system uses an applied algorithm to remove the sounds which are directly relevant to communication (i.e. speech), leaving grunts, moans, screams, squeaks, yelps, breaths, "ums," and the like.

There are a number of different Language Removal series, including "Artists," "Divas," and "Critics," and this sampler gives examples of each. In "Divas," for instance, you can hear the vocal excess and accentuation of Marilyn Monroe, Maria Callas, and Princess Diana.

It's really a wonderful idea. The resultant sound is frightening and otherworldly, and suggests that human beings are odd creatures indeed. Why do we make sounds which communicate nothing? There is expression even in non-linguistic sound, and its fun to hear such expression isolated.

The differences between individual speech patterns are wide. Gertrude Stein's non-communicative language sounds are little but faint whispers, while Dion McGregor more or less screams without stopping. Steve Howe, of the progreesive rock band Yes, sounds confused and almost hyperventalative; Princess Diana sounds like she's holding back tears.

The sampler cd is clearly not meant to be listened to in a linear fashion. You skip through this person and that person, fascinated to hear what John Cage is saying when he isn't producing words. In fact, the Cage track was the most interesting to listen to because it's the longest at 4 minutes, 33 seconds (get it?). The music of the human voice is most transfixing over a long period, and listening to this cd I wished that all of the speakers had been given as much time as Cage had.

The sampler, though, is just one of what will eventually be a huge series of language-removed events, including entire operas and speeches. Furthermore, I understand that anyone can submit a tape of their own speech to LRS and, for a modest fee, have their own personal hidden vocalizations revealed!

By Ben Tausig

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