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Babal: The Circle Of Confusion Of Tongues

I’m often heard referring to how I struggle with humour, or indeed quirk in my music. Babal most certainly fall into the latter. Not immediately, not interminably, but stumble they do and as ever I’m left on the outside waving at the window watching a band clearly having the time of their lives, as I blatantly don’t get it. Even calling the album The Circle Of Confusion Of Tongues got my quirk-o-meter pinging and yet as the funked up slap and tickle of “Teeth Of The Universe” throbs and bobs into my life, I’m nodding along and feeling all generally funked with the Babal. Then “Amanda” slides into view. No, it’s not a cover of the ultra-smooth ballad-a-Boston. In fact I’m not really sure exactly what it is, other than a list of phased/spoken vocals recounting the reasons why Amanda would appear to be a stuck up full of herself pain in the… well you get the idea. This is not what I call a good time.

“He’s Got The Bends” brings floating, bubbling vocals into play as an electric piano bloops and blips its willingness to search for the surface. What’s the message? I’m none the wiser. Is there a concept here? Is there a secret code I’m unable to break. Please let me in, I want to play… “The Crooked Path” hears my cry and boom, crack and click, the door unlocks and I’m inside, flailing arms to the Talking Heads on the wibble bustle and shuffle. Singer Karen Langley sounding strangely like Jello Biafra without the snark.

Paddling upstream. Swimming against the tide. It feels like we’ve been doing this an age now. The Circle Of Confusion Of Tongues is a tiring experience where pedalling as fast as you can merely keeps you just out of reach of what’s going on. “Stole Breath” soothes and slides without any real purpose, “Monkey On My Back” passes out a golden invitation to those of a Zappa-esque persuasion, crazed vocals talking of monkeys seeing and doing. Something Babal most certainly don’t adhere to as the words turn into chimp-screams and howls. All the while the drums blaze, marching with so much purpose they almost drown out the maelstrom, but not quite.

As Bon Jovi said, ah right, well, I see we’re only half way through this - or something like that. “The Foot High Guy” mysterious and meandering, “Partakers” popping on beats and hitting like an open night avant-garde poetry night. Partaking? Not me. Neither am I a “Volunteer”, although maybe I am, because I’m still here being indoctrinated into the crazy. In fairness, the eighties snare crack and off hand vocal delivery works a treat and for the second, maybe third time I’m wondering, why can’t the rest of the album sound like this? I’ve decided I’m staying. Here. Right now. The razor sharp guitars are gnawing in my head and I like it. Then “The Great Overwhelm” talks to me like it can read my mind. Overwhelmed? Yes ma’am, sorry. I am.

Two songs left and suddenly these tongues are wagging inanely. They are describing my journey through this album. The drone of organ and layered electro-vocals explaining I’m “Skating On The Pond”. I daren’t look down, but I’ve no doubt the ice I’m on is thin… and as I lose the will, “Blockpave Over Me” ends as we begun. With a song and a heavy message. One almost as weighty as the paving slabs I see stealing the light.

As the grind of concrete sheet against concrete sheet takes my last breath, so I attempt to wave the white flag. I give in, you beat me. I don’t understand. And yet…


Track Listing
1. TEETH OF THE UNIVERSE
2. AMANDA
3. HE'S GOT THE BENDS
4. THE CROOKED PATH
5. STOLEN BREATH
6. MONKEY ON MY BACK
7. THE FOOT HIGH GUY
8. PARTAKERS
9. VOLUNTEERS
10. THE GREAT OVERWHELM
11. SKATING ON THE POND
12. BLOCK PAVE ME OVER

Added: November 3rd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Babal at bandcamp
Hits: 88
Language: english

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