This is the final BABEL album. At least for a while. I’m putting the project into hibernation as I did in 2006 until I resurrected it in 2009 for the ‘RILE’ album. When I started making music as BABEL again, I had a very specific idea of what kind of music I wanted it to be. Something at the nexus of Einsturzende Neubauten and Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack for The Last Temptation of Christ. Over the last 7 years I’ve tried to get there from a number of angles and this album, ‘Sofandi’, is where I finally achieve the sound in my head (or as near enough as to satisfy my intentions). It collects the clanging industrial guitar of ‘Heurter’ and ‘Zwerm’, the lone endless reverb piano notes of ‘Morpheum’, the guitar drones of ‘Maze’ and ‘Cosmos Bleu’, the tinkling chimes of ‘Glockengeister’, the plaintive reeds and abstract percussion of the ‘Sacred Fire’ albums and the kosmische synths of more recent works. Every idea I’ve had converges here, so what is left to say? Time to put the project to sleep and watch the fire die. 

Review and eulogy at A Closer Listen.

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In 2013 I began working on an album project that never quite materialized. At least not in the manner I’d envisioned. It was to be a definitive BABEL album and was conceived as a continuation of another project of mine, MOONWOOD. Originally, Moonwood had been an acoustic-based psychedelic-folk solo project before morphing into a kraut-rock influenced electro-psych duo by 2012 and then a full-fledged space-rock jam band in early 2013. Around that time I felt I’d taken my solo drone guitar explorations with BABEL about as far as I could for the time-being so I figured I’d take BABEL back to the source, so to speak.

In the meantime, I ended up going on an analog synth detour with the retro-electronic “Grid Series” albums and EPs. Inevitably, the approach of these recordings began to leech into my “psychedelic-folk acoustic improv” album. As a result the project kept evolving and never felt completed. I ended up with three years of kosmische drones, Middle-Eastern acoustic ragas, pseudo-gamelan meditations and noir-ish fake-jazz jams.

The final result was a series of albums, EPs and mini-albums. None of these followed the blueprint of what they were intended to be and were probably all the better for it.


Unsere Sterne—”Our Stars” Electro-acoustic kosmische drones. The end result of many approaches discovered in search of an elusive sound.


Infinitus Noctem —”Infinite night.” A kosmische exploration of darkness and light.


Ceci n’est pas le jazz—”This is not jazz.” A collection of fake-jazz jams.


This Is Not The Sacred Fire—Gamelan-inspired junk jazz and meditation drones.


Cosmos Bleu—Synth and electric guitar drones. A kosmische muzik / Frippertronics-inspired  journey.

Most of the tracks were compiled onto two limited edition double-CD sets by Arachnidiscs Recordings.

 

MAZE Build 1

One hour of continuous solo guitar and synth drones recorded in May 2015.

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Vemödalen – the fear that everything has already been done.

2xCD. Another 2.5 hours of music culled from the same sessions that produced the ZWERM album. All sounds produced by a Telecaster and recorded live direct to 2-track digital during rehearsals during Spring of 2014. All tracks contain material previously released on the limited edition TOTAAL USB album, though in most cases a slightly truncated form.

FebrisTymbral
Hot new label on the cassette scene Tymbal Tapes has done me the honour of releasing my FEBRIS album. It’s a C60 of continuous kosmische kraut jams and middle eastern psych. You can order the limited edition cassette here.

IMG_9475
I’m very pleased to have my album of piano and synthesizer improvisations, JANIFORM, released on the UK-based label Assembly Field. At time of this posting, there are still a few copies of the limited edition CD left. You can purchase it here.

BABELBUMPER

BABEL now has a page on Facebook for those who like that sort of thing.

https://www.facebook.com/babeldrone

OUTSKIRTS

In an act of archival house-cleaning, I’ve uploaded volumes 2 & 3 in the “words scores” ALPHABETA series to Bandcamp.

The first is ALPHABETA 2: Outskirts. In 2011 I recorded the original ALPHABETA (released 2012), an album of music composed using the letters that spell words for the notes of each piece. For instance the melody of “Defaced” went D-E-F-A-C-E-D. A gimmick situated somewhere between artistic creativity and laziness.

The nine tracks on this EP were first sketches, demos and out-takes. Some I rejected purely for (what I now see as relatively minor) flaws in the recording or performance, some because I recorded two versions of the “word” and chose the other for the album. Ironically, I feel these abandoned takes hold together more cohesively than the original album. There’s a continuity of sound and approach (a sort of spaghetti western jazz) that was missing from the hodge-podge approach of the official album.

Interestingly, the first track ACE DECADE takes it’s name from the Scooby-Doo episode “The Diabolical Disc Demon” which possibly was the subconscious inspiration for this whole project.

Ace Decade is the nephew of the owner of a music studio. He is a Caucasian male with dark brown hair and wears glasses. Ace Decade is disloyal, sneaky, jealous and conniving. Decade was smuggling records out of the studio in trash cans in order to sell them for personal profit. When a music writer, Tony Symes, realized his actions, Ace disguised himself as the Phantom and kidnapped Symes, locking him in a cupboard in the cafeteria. Decade attempted to mislead the Scooby gang whilst they attempted to solve the mystery, leading them to a tape recorder wired to the intercom in his office in order to give the appearance he was being framed. However, Symes left a clue which was Decade’s ultimate downfall; his last piece of music spelled the culprit’s name in the first three bars: ACE DEC ADE.

The second album is one I’d posted last year to the BABEL Soundcloud under the title ALPHABETA {organ redux}.

The inspiration for these recordings was that about half the original album turned out exactly as I intended. The other half… I suppose I was never happy with it. Some pieces were too cluttered in the arrangements, others too cutesy in my attempt to tie the dictionary definition of the word thematically to the piece. Often that approach resulted, I felt, in some ham-fisted results where the music suffered as I forced it to conform to the concept of the project. Still, other pieces disregarded the literal meaning of the word altogether and because of this, it seemed, the work as a whole was disjointed. Here I returned to the concept and reduced it to its basic elements: the notes themselves.

To aid in this, I used the same synthesized organ voice for each track and used echo loops in the manner of Messrs Riley and Reich. This time, I’ve let the notes speak for themselves and ignored the literal meaning of the word. Save, perhaps, “DEAF” with its tinnitus-like ringing at the end and “BE” could be used as an aid to a meditation on simply being.

For this reposting I changed the title to ALPHABETA 3: Organizm.

Both titles are available in micro-batch edition CD-Rs.

And finally, not on Bandcamp but back over on Soundcloud, I’ve uploaded a live recording from the ALPHABETA launch party.

defaced

Since I was releasing an album of electronically manipulated glockenspiel titled Glockengeister that same night, I combined the approach of the two in a composition called DEFACED/FACADE with the help of Pavlov’s Dogs Handbell Ensemble. The performance was captured by recordist Joe Strutt but sat in his vault for a couple years and then mine for another. You can listen now, or download it (free), below.

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Improvised piano études recorded in January, 2015.

Janiform. adj. Resembling the god Janus, having two faces looking in opposite directions.

Earlier this month cult CD-R label Inyrdisk did BABEL the honour releasing OCTAL. Quantities are very limited, so it’s not to be slept on. Or the digital is available for perpetuity.

Video clip for “Zwerm.04” from Zwerm/Totaal.