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Cos - Babel CD (album) cover

BABEL

Cos

 

Canterbury Scene

3.76 | 51 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Third album from Cos and friends (which include Magma's Franšois "Faton" Cahen, Charles Loos, Placebo's Marc Moulin, Pazop's Patrick Cogneaux and Dirk Bogaert from Waterloo & Pazop and others), and unfortunately a fairly rare album even if there is a reissue with Belle Antique. With the line-up remaining fairly constant, the album is also still sounding very much like the first two, even if Babel is driven by a funky bass, which can give a slight disco twist, but rest assured that this is only an impression, because the rhythms are still quite complex. The artwork is the group on Ostende's beachfront on the North Sea.

After a funky (a tad disco-ish) title track where Loos' piano reigns with Pascale Son's ever-marvellous scats, Good Wind is a much more reflective mood with Schell's guitars bouncing off Son's oboe on Cahen's keyboards. Obviously Cha Cha Cha is a dedicated track to the dance, but this is a very much an unusual almost cool-jazz version, which saves it (I am not a fan of the 20's music scenes) from complete disaster and the track gradually builds up to a very funky Caribbean end. This is almost the same Caribbean feel that dominates the start of Mein Maschine Is Sch÷n (my machine is neat) where they manage to fuse Caribbean rhythms with the almost-grotesque Oktoberfest music from southern-Germany folklore. While interesting on a few listens, I must say that this track with its 8-min+ does overstay its welcome a bit.

The flipside starts with Sors Ton Petard (draw your gun or doobie) where Pascale Son's scatting over Goutier's funky bass are the features. Ostende is a short ambiance piece inspired by the city's beachfront with Placebo's Marc Moulin on organ, Schell's delicate guitar beddings and it ends gently on sea waves noises. The album ends on the lengthy Greeneldo, with Goutier's funky bass again leading, but Allearts' constant drum shifts and rolls make sure that the listeners stay alert (despite that disco-ish beat) and Son, Hollander and Schell are trading wind instrument licks over dreamy ethereal voices.

The Belle Antique label mini-Lp remaster comes with a bunch of bonus tracks, the first four coming from a '79 ballet recorded live in Antwerp where the group (same line-up as for Babel) provided some music that is quite Cos-esque and quite frankly fairly similar to Babel despite being a tad more experimental. Can't say that the recording is spotless, far from it (especially Pascale's ultra-high wailings), but the crescendoing Overture and the nearly RIO vocals of Considering A Movement are an exceptional addition to the original album, as are the very reedy Boehme and the great live version of the Babel album title track. The next three tracks come from a Cos Trio formula - with Schell and Allaerts and Fiszman on bass ? recorded live in 81 (so after the bad Chalet album's release), but if quite interesting (returning to a more experimental music), these are very different sounding (there is a Crimson edge to Viva Boma's Amafam and a Santana edge for Nog Verder live tracks) than the Babel album on which they sit on, thus it is harder to keep its new unity.

While Babel is still a very worthy album (despite the odd disco/funk beats), you can feel that the group is sort of freewheeling it, gliding effortlessly, surfing on their talents, just content to make good albums without over-reaching themselves. And good, Babel is certainly, but it doesn't present Viva Boma's greatness or bears the surprises that Postaeolian Train Robbery did. Still very worthy and now available with those bonus on the Belle Antique label.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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