Review- “Babylon Hill”- Valued Customer

reviewed by Michael Thomas

I’ve been having a lot of trouble trying to come up with a good introduction to this album because it’s one that is so far into the “weird” zone that I can’t just say “this is the weirdest thing I’ve heard in a while.” It may be, but it’s worth a listen just for the rather unique experience.

The album starts and ends as though you’ve just unknowingly entered a hypnotherapy session, complete with 80s-style synth blips from time to time. The voice tells you to relax and has you begin imagining things before it launches into the main body of music (with one “hypnosis break” in between).

If you thought it was weird to start an album with pseudo-hypnotherapy, wait until you hear the music. The first real song is “Hill Song One,” one of my favourite tracks on the album. The song is for a majority a mixture of low-pitched bass sounds and vocals, but around the midpoint there is suddenly an explosion of energy that makes the song sound like a tribal dance.

“Fiona Handbag” is a song characterized by horns and loud cymbal crashes. It makes for a nice change from the previous song’s antics and also shows how unpredictable and experimental the duo is. It’s followed by one of the creepiest songs on the album, “Mother! Mother!” It’s filled with quick piano notes and a general sense that something terrible is going to happen. That’s thanks to the foreboding and rapid-fire vocals, particularly the way the singer yells the song’s title in the chorus.

“Bangs” is one of the more normal-sounding numbers on the album, but it’s quickly countered with “Mango Lassi.” What starts with some exotic-sounding instrumentals eventually becomes creepy with a very distorted voice singing the chorus (and even a few evil laughs for good measure).

“The Drinking Song” isn’t as joyous-sounding as most drinking songs are. Instead, it’s made unique by the use of electric guitar and its melancholy atmosphere. “Participant Unwilling” brings in sweeping instrumentals to a chaotic song.

“Hill Song Two” almost seems to be hypnosis in the form of song, while “Waters of Babylon” is a song as fluid as its title.

There is no simple way to confine this band to a genre (other than experimental). That’s definitely a strength, and a reason why this duo deserves a shot. Also, I should mention that this album as an experience is one that should be played from beginning to end.

Babylon Hill is a name-your-price Bandcamp download.

Top Tracks: “Hill Song One”; “The Drinking Song”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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