Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Bablicon - 'In a Different City' (Misra)

At the same time that the Azusa Plane were stretching tones across a cloudy sky in Philly, these guys were bashing away in Chicago, attempting to resurrect some 70's artrock/prog spectres but kicking it in the face with the mishmash of musical ideas the 90s taught us. Pretty much instrumental, In a Different City is fairly auspicious, bouncing from free rock to musique concrete interludes, sticking to conventional acoustics for the most part but not afraid to throw in some gurgling synths/electronics or some blasted, distorted electric bass. One of these dudes was a composery type, and I think he's the one squiggling about on the reeds - but probably also he's the one playing Charles Ives on 'Pictor's Metamorphoses'. Tracks like 'Francis Locrius' dance back and forth between aggro-jazz and Krautlike monotony, and if I have a criticism it's that the pieces don't feel like they are cut from the same cloth. Some really delicately arranged strings crop up a few times, though in 'At the Birthday Party' they're cut with electric piano and a Soft Machine-esque chord progression. I think it's the electric piano that makes this feel so prog, because the compositions aren't particualrly rooted in classical music or dungeons and dragons stuff. Being their first (of three), Bablicon have a 'kitchen sink' tendency here, but that's part of the charm -- we have two future albums during which we can hear them refine their approach. The liner notes, difficult to read as they are, are packed with all of the various instruments that each member plays. Did I mention they all use pseudonyms and only one of them has the balls to look at the camera in the inner photo? Maybe that's the one moaning on 'Rhinocerous', which shimmers like a wobbly elephant in ballet slippers until it runs onto a bobsled track (or is it the luge? Never sure what mixed metaphor is best for a theramin solo). Psychedelia can come from the old and the new; kudos to this band for trying to meet each hafway.

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