Fantôme Phonographique present a reissue of “Speech After The Removal Of The Larynx“, originally released by Smithsonian Folkways in 1964.
The larynx or voice box is a small organ located towards the top of the neck in humans and some other animals. Constructed largely of cartilage, it houses the vocal folds that allow for the manipulation of pitch and volume, which are essential for the phonation of spoken speech. It is also involved in bringing air to the lungs when you breathe and it protects the windpipe when you swallow. However, those unfortunate to experience the potentially fatal malignant tumors of laryngeal cancer will have their larynx removed, resulting in a traumatic loss of speech; thankfully, as this rare record issued by Smithsonian Folkways in 1964 demonstrates, removal of the larynx does not necessarily spell the end of speech for such blighted individuals. Instead, through developments in artificial voice creation, patients could learn to employ modes of vocal communication again.
The album was recorded by physician Harm A. Drost at the Phonetic Laboratory of the Ear, Nose, and Throat Dept. of the University Hospital, Leiden, in the Netherlands, working under the direction of Professor H. A. E. van Dishoeck. As the advances were fairly new and surprisingly varied, Drost felt a phonograph album demonstrating the techniques would be useful for those in the field. The album thus features a narrator explaining aspects of several different techniques, followed by examples of patients employing them. Buccal speech (limited to certain consonants), parabuccal speech (collecting air in a space between the upper jaw and the cheek), glosso-pharyngeal speech (a method deemed obsolete where air is forced between the tongue and the palate), esophageal voice (made by reconditioning one’s esophagus via swallowing, suction, or injection), various injection techniques and devices such as the larynxophone, pipa di tichioni, and “western electric” are all explored here, along with other aspects of the larynx and its absence.
“Speech After The Removal Of The Larynx“is definitely one of the strangest albums ever given a commercial release.