On listening to the subject of my turn on Your New Favourite Band!, a snooty music journo retorted ‘but they don’t have roots in any tradition.’ And that’s precisely why I like Babel.
A fiddler with the jaunty saws of a folk musician but the tell-tale vibrato of the classically trained, a vocalist with the ethereal vocals of a ‘highbrow’ indie band, some pagan imagery in a thrown-together video, and I’m happy.
Babel are from Bristol and their mini-album, Pearl Street Raga, released last year through the eclectic People Tree Records, is wonderfully straight up but delightfully intriguing. There’s folky refrains, and riffs that feet and hands will appreciate. A standout track is the sweet but simple Shangri-La, a tale of longing and nostalgia that has the ability to make your stomach feel like it’s bounced over a crater in the road and question why something so straightforward can intrigue you.
Occasionally there’s a sinking in to sumptuous orchestral textures, like the album closer, Empyre Building. But don’t think for one second that Babel are soft – as they state on their MySpace: "Babel started out all kind of small, folky and a bit shy but then fell in dirty love with pounding tambourines and volume knobs."
Although I’ve never seen them live, I can imagine it's a pared-down affair, where less is certainly more. But with the impending release of their next full length project, Crooked Timber, which is set to be ‘harder, faster, sweeter, stronger’, I’m hoping a full-length tour will ensue and we can enjoy their mystery in person.
words: Sophie Parkes