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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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MAZE Build 1

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

VEMoDALEN-stamp

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.

BABELBUMPER

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

https://www.facebook.com/babeldrone

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.

Weird Canada

Babel has been pouring out a huge number of recordings for a good many years now. This album stands as the second in a trilogy of percussively minded releases focusing on prepared guitars and bass guitars. Sturm und Drang gets its three thematic counterparts going on a psychedelically stomping bare foot, where the emphasis is certainly on the minimalism and rhythm rhythm rhythm associated with the classic krautrock sound (“Sturm.01-03”), before going shot-for-shot into more serene dreams and foreign landscapes intent on flowing out into the ambient (“Drang.01-03”).

Whereas previous Babel releases (and there are very many, mostly released on CD-R) explored notions of post-rock and doom-metal inspired textures, the “Drang” pieces pursue a purer ambience, a oneness with the void perhaps. And then there are the “Black Lodge” and “White Pine” tracks, dipping into Angelo Badalamenti and Twin Peaks waters with inspiration and restraint. A project in metamorphosis, guided by Arachnidiscs head honcho Jakob Rehlinger and recorded in brilliant crystalline hi-fi, Sturm und Drang shows that Babel is towering with talent.

Biloxi

The second installment of Babel’s trilogy where guitars are played as percussive instruments, I am criminally late in my review of STURM undDRANG. The pieces here are improvisational, but the sound seems more structured than the tracks on heurter. Babel also includes flutes and electronically manipulated vocal drones, which creates a much richer sonic tapestry. Finally, where as heurter was firmly rooted in an ambient sound, STURM und DRANG song’s vary from drone to stuff that has an unusual pop and smooth jazz undertones. With each album I hear, I’m enjoying Babel more and more.

Terrascope

I don’t know what it is about sleeve art using crude black stencilling on white card stock, but to me it always suggests a hint of the forbidden and a basic, no b.s. approach. The latest entrant coming bedecked in that stark, crate-loving lettering is BABEL‘s ‘Sturm und Drang’ (c.d.) on the Arachnidiscs imprint. This comes as a part two in Babelman Jakob Rehlinger’s trilogy and as a follow up to the ‘Heurter’ c.d. Even though I’m not that conversant with sound collagist / psychester Jakob’s modus operandi for this project, I’d suspect that this exercise in guitar gamelan would require the strings to be restrained in gaffa tape or somesuch, so as to avoid unnecessary sustain and bleed into the rhythmic warp and weft. Having had the merry hell beaten out of ’em, these tightly-bound victims seem to summon up an early period Glenn Branca-conducted unit gatecrashing a Z’ev-hosted percussion seminar, making for a surprisingly wide span of timbres, considering the fairly limited sources that were selected. And it’s not the bug-eyed clatterfest one would expect, as one or two segments; with their doctored vocalese and primitive wind instrumentation, open a portal into weird M.R. Jamesian rune-casting invocations…..Mr. Karswell…they’re playing your tune….

Raised by Gypisies

With regards to their other CD, this piece by BABEL is quite different and possibly even the opposite as far as song structures go.   It is fairly normal in terms of the quantity of songs as well as their individual lengths.  I realize that “normal” is a relative term, especially in music, so I don’t want you think that at all reflects this album as being in any way normal in the general sense of things. These songs do seem to possess a certain sense of rhythm though, which almost makes them closer to normal than not, but there are enough other qualities to pull this back down to an abnormal reality for me.

There is some amazing drum work on these songs and it even gets close to something like jungle beats at times, but doesn’t quite exactly make it there.   What will probably stick out most about this CD to me in the long run are the undertones of the western style of music. I’m not talking about your grandfather’s western though.  This is like something straight out of “Django Unchained” and I love it for that.

On a side note, I read that these songs were all improvised and I also really respect the sound of this CD for that as this is one of the finest releases I have ever heard and it’s something so much more than the noise/instrumental/experimental genres.

“The four tracks seem knot together into a kind of symphonic form, the first three totaling some 25 minutes, the last 37. The general sound is of an electric drone/throb, a few parts the Fripp of “No Pussyfooting” (sans Frippertronics), a few more of a sunnier version of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The first three sections are all about vastness, sometimes a bit overdoing it (the closing wind sounds on the third sections, for example) but generally resting in a rich swirling sound area that’s not unpleasant. Rehlinger takes the opportunity to tease out more structural strands in the fourth part, separating out various sonorities, allowing more breathing room while still maintaining the kind of simmering ecstatic output heard earlier (here, I think of Loren Connors at his most otherworldly and Branca rears his head as well).” ~ Just Outside 

 

“Haunting guitar-based ambient, brings to mind the densely layered looping of Richard Pinhas and the crepuscular moodiness of Evan Caminiti, throw in a richly textured guitar tone akin to Tom Carter and you have this masterpiece. A lot of delay, space, drones, perfect music for your third eye. Fuck me, this is beyond beautiful. I can die happy now.” ~ KZSU FM

Pre-orders for RILLINGEN are being taken via the Bandcamp site (see widget below).

At the risk of sounding corny, I’m going to cast aside my usual humble facade and declare I’m super-extremely-ultra-mega proud of this one.

RILLINGEN (meaning “Shivers” or “Chills” in Dutch) is where I feel the BABEL project arrives at the destination I’d always intended it land. Crashed, nose-first, somewhere in a frozen landscape of burning souls ecstatically freezing to death. The more lyrical side from earlier collections (Morpheum, Limbus, etc) returns to join the percussive, extended techniques of the previous two EPs (HEURTER and STURM und DRANG), finally bringing two halves of BABEL into one cohesive whole.

Recorded live, direct to 2-track on Mothers Day, 2013, in six takes (three of which make up the 37-minute closer) using echo loops and, fittingly (though pun not intended), an Electro-Harmonix “Freeze” pedal.

Release date: December the 19th, 2013, miraculously the same day as the release party at the cleverly named 961a College Street art-space in Toronto (More info here at THE EVIL PLACE).

STURM und DRANG is part 2 in BABEL’s trilogy of improvised, extended technique pieces for prepared electric guitars. As with HEURTER (part 1), guitar and bass are primarily treated as percussion instruments. These pieces also feature delay loops, junk percussion, wind instruments and electronically manipulated vocal performances.

Pre-Orders now open // Releases 25 November 2013

HEURTER has received a few reviews since its release. The first is quite favourable, from Weird Canada.

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The second comes from Biloxi, also favourable.

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The third is baffling (and possibly favourable) from the late, great Offerings:

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LIMBUSMORPHEUM

BABEL’s 2011 releases Limbus (CD) and Morpheum EP (cassette) are now up on Bandcamp as a special compilation. As a bonus, the two works are also available as a specially priced, limited, physical bundle.