1. Twee 1.25  2. Straining at the Stool  3. Daddy  4. Norwegian Wood  5. The More You Struggle, the Tighter It Gets  6. Saved  7. Might As Well Wish For It  8. Carmen Mirauder  9. Dogmas of the Quiet Past 10. My Rat's Food 11. Watch Nine Correct 12. Dutch Wife 13. Twee 0.40 14. That's Not My Handwriting 15. Hot Damn Viet Nam 16. Odo Some years after our cassette came out, Mayday Records got this lovely CD pressed. But instead of us dreaming up some convincing words, we'll let the published reviews speak: Chris Kemmerer on houston.sidewalk.com wrote, sometime in 1998...   Houston bands, no lie, spawn some of the weirdest noise on the planet. Infant Mortality Rate supports this rash statement with a CD of industrial noise, sonic experimentation and occassional great beauty. Phil Krieg from Sad Pygmy is behind all this, though the ace theremin stylings he exhibits for that band are buried in an avalanche of found sound and studio hammering. There is ugly skronk aplenty here (60 seconds or so of "Dogmas of the Quiet Past" should tell you whether IMR is your cup of tea -- it sounds like it really is recorded on "sticky tape and rust"). You'll need an appreciation for envelope-pushing and loud grinding noises or you'll leave the room immediately, but we love it all, even the severe deconstruction of "Norwegian Wood." Most folks, of course, have no use at all for this kind of stuff, but the international noise underground will buy every copy and beg for more.   The moon unit wrote, in Dead Angel #34 (11/98)...   All right -- he gets bonus points right off the bat for all the nifty angel pix on the cover and scattered throughout the booklet. He also gets bonus points for his demented sensibilities: the disc opens with "Twee 1.25," comprised of frantically skipping CD sounds mixed in with an extremely devolved and fractured recording of some woman singing the "Star Spangled Banner," probably taped off the late-night TV signoff. THIS is what the Null/Disc offering reviewed later this issue should have sounded like. "Daddy," with its heavily repeated samples of "bad dreams" and "i want very much to stop dreaming" running atop a crazed pile of crowd noises and other bizarreness, comes off like a disturbed cross between early Pain Teens and Butthole Surfers. Some of the samples appear to have no connection whatsoever to the main thrust of the piece, which only makes it even more surreal. Then there's "Norweigian Wood," not even remotely connected to the Beatles song of the same time -- no, it's a demented phone conversation between what sound like two hillbillies from the set of DELIVERANCE that abruptly segues into peculiar rhythms and a woman asking "Do you mind if I take my sweater off?" Now -- now, i'm just guessing here, but i have a feeling this jolly fellow had a problem with his attention span when he was a young lad.... "The More You Struggle, The Tighter It Gets" is a burbling drone-o-thon with more bizarre samples (this time, it's someone reciting his multiplication tables, among other things), while "MIght As Well Wish For It" is a slowly pproaching wall of white noise that suddenly transforms into some guy moaning over a crippled breakbeat. On "Dogmas of the Quiet Past," wailing klaxons, rumbling noises and other weirdness slosh around while various people chatter and wail. About this time it becomes obvious that, as with early Butthole Surfers material, this might be bullshit, but it's good bullshit. (Bad bullshit would be, say, movies starring Steven Seagal; good bullshit would be Jackie Chan movies. The same ratio applies to music, too. Or anti-music, as this may be. One never knows. You'd have to dig up Freud and ask him. Just don't do it while holding a banana. Am i making sense? No? Good. Excellent, even. Being obfuscatory is a dangerous business, dammit, but someone has to do it and it might as well be moi.) The looped skipping-CD noises show up again on "My Rat's Food," but once again they're employed to much better effect here than on the Null/Disc CD. The skipping sets up a hypnotic rhythm over which he overlays lots of other weird loops, drones, and puzzling bulldada. Swank, mon, swank. "Twee 0.40" and "That's Not My Handwriting" are also heavily reminiscent of early Pain Teens, as they're built around endless loops of nonsensical observations with lots of damaged noises happening in the background (think "Shotguns" or "Secret is Sickness"), which i suspect is not entirely coincidental, since IMR is from Houston and has connections to Austin Caustic one of the original tape manipulators associated with Pain Teens. More devolved tape frippery shows up on "Odo," a deliberately garbled conversation (apparently on the subject of law, although volcanos are also mentioned, so maybe not) that's been subjected to a fair amount of tape mushiness; a relentless skip-rhythm runs through the last part to an ominous monologue that's eventually overtaken by the skipping sounds.   While IMR isn't exactly breaking new ground here by any means, his means of manipulating stacks of tapes is generally more interesting, and certainly more humorous, than the work of most of the splice 'n dice contingent. Plus he does have the exquisite good taste to shovel on lots of angels in the artwork. I say it's worth investigating....   And in Splendid Ezine (11-Aug-1999), George Zæhoræ wrote...     Our copy of Puer Æternis arrived with the words "Me no goth!" written on its shrink-wrap with a grease pencil. This sort of pre-non-categorization is tremendously useful, helping us to avoid embarassing faux pas on those occasions when we write reviews without actually listening to the CDs -- in fact, more bands should do it (He's not serious -- Ed.). It's unlikely that you'd mistake IMR for goth, however, unless you suffer from total hearing loss or a complete lack of musical genre knowledge, for Puer Æternis is an entirely different animal than its gravestone-cherub-laden cover implies. The disc's 16 cuts are a coctail of synthesized and manipulated sounds, samples and spoken word material, inhabiting a stylistic middle ground between the KLF's Blue Room and Negativland (with a few detours into Current 93 and early Skinny Puppy territory for good measure). It's rather like a fever dream, with odd moments of lucidity breaking through the sonic chaos, then sinking back into the (if you'll forgive us using a rather goth word) mire. If you're looking for familiar ground, you might start with "Norwegian Wood", which includes within its wildly detailed collage a bastardized version of the Beatles classic rendered upon a Casio sampler that wheezes like a failing respirator. Other areas are more hellish: "Carmen Mirauder" is three minutes inside a schizophrenic's head, and "My Rat's Food" is a squalling mess o' chaos that, if played at high enough volume, will induce the neighbors to send the police to your house in search of bodies under the lino. Despite the overwhelming air of menace and confusion, Puer Æternis deserves your attention; it may be easy to create this sort of sound-art, but it's hard to make it interesting, which is where Infant Mortality Rate succeeds. When the voices in your head get tired of talking, this disc makes a perfect substitute. $8
Puer Aeternis