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BABAL

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Babal biography
A UK-based rock combo BABAL have haunted upon stage in 2012 (firstly under the moniker of BABBLE) by Karen LANGLEY (voices), Rob WILLIAMS (guitars, synthesizers), and Jon SHARP (drums), all of whom inspired specifically by Talking Heads, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Jimi Hendrix or Patti Smith, for discharging psychedelic / art rock. They signed a contract with an independent prog label Melodic Revolution Records and released their fourth album "The Circle Of Confusion Of Tongues" in 2018.

BABAL ANNOUNCEMENT
In November 2018, Karen received a shock diagnosis of a rare blood cancer. Intensive, life-saving chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant were prescribed. Our world was turned upside down, inside out, through the wormhole and back again. Everything changed.

The focus was on Karen's illness. BABAL went dark and all energy went into living with the unknown and not giving in to black thoughts. Throughout, Rob carried on getting existing BABAL material produced and put out as well as looking after Karen.

The good news is that Karen is through the worst and is now on the path of recovery.

BABAL have a new release, coming out of all the uncertainty and anguish. So much love and support over the year has kept us going mentally and physically and our music continues to evolve with all perspectives remaining on authenticity and inner creative impulses.

We are not defined by illness or bad luck or even the past; we meet in the now and are thankful for the continuation that prevails.

Enjoy the new music; any profits from the latest project will be donated to Macmillan Cancer Support, an amazing charity that works with individuals and families experiencing cancer.

Small things become important and big things happen when you are looking at the flowers. Be ready xx

October 2019

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BABAL discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BABAL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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Collaborating with the Inevitable (as Wise Children)
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Law of 3 (as Wise Children)
2001
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Bread and Circuses (as Babble)
2012
0.00 | 0 ratings
Shape of the Flux (as Babble)
2012
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Circle of Confusion of Tongues
2018
0.00 | 0 ratings
Liquid Sunshine
2019
3.95 | 2 ratings
Dreams for Imaginary Puppet Shows on the Radio
2020
4.00 | 1 ratings
Spirit in a Meat Suit
2021
4.00 | 2 ratings
Who Will I Be When I Leave
2022

BABAL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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Live at Sonic Rock Solstice 2015
2015

BABAL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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Singular Adventures in Post-Modern Capitalist Society
2016

BABAL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Glossolalia
2018

BABAL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Hanging in the Balance
2015
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The Game
2017
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Body Cathedrals
2017
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Flywheel of Life
2017
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The Shirt
2017
3.95 | 2 ratings
The Glacier
2018
3.46 | 3 ratings
The Big Everything
2019
0.00 | 0 ratings
Transmarginal Inhibition
2019
0.00 | 0 ratings
Marmaduke Pollanto
2019
0.00 | 0 ratings
Subduction
2019
4.00 | 1 ratings
Frank's Lament
2020
0.00 | 0 ratings
Zombie Diary
2021
3.00 | 1 ratings
Buy Me an Acre of Land
2021
2.50 | 2 ratings
Corkscrew Rider
2022

BABAL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Who Will I Be When I Leave by BABAL album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Who Will I Be When I Leave
Babal Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Babal are back with another album which refuses to conform to what anyone thinks progressive rock should be like, with a world view which puts them in opposition to the majority and they are just fine with that. Although they have a guest who provides additional bass on a couple of tracks, Babal are a close-knit trio who have been following their own musical path and destiny for some years now, staying away from anything which could be deemed to be trendy and instead walking a path less followed. In Jon Sharpe they have a drummer who is never content to sit at the back and just keep time, but rather he needs to be heard and injects himself into the music to be a key part of the arrangements. Rob Williams is a multi-instrumentalist who appears to be at home with whatever he touches, and then there is Karen?... Karen is the ultimate performer living her roles, which are very much part of her, destined to be the centre of attention.

With both Rob and Karen suffering cancer in recent years, there was a very high risk that Babal would have to fold, and as it is they have unable to play gigs for quite some time, but there is nothing which will stop the guys channelling the music which is in their blood, and here they have come up with one of their most uncompromising albums yet. Think Talking Heads mixed with Beefheart, experimental Zappa and some punk ethics (as opposed to musical) such as Crass and one may just get close. There are elements of free jazz alongside prog, an edginess which refuses definition and a solid desire never to be pleasant and restful but rather be angular and sharp. This is music which will divide opinions among progheads as there will be plenty who will feel there is too much angst and general weirdness going on while there will also be others who feel this is cutting edge which takes us back 50 years to a time when anything was possible and being progressive meant being different as opposed to rehashing what had come before.

I have become used to Babal by now, and knew I would not necessarily enjoy this the first time I played this, even before I put it on, and possibly not even the second, but by the third there was a smile on my face as Karen, Rob and Jon have yet again delivered something out of the norm and very special indeed.

 Spirit in a Meat Suit by BABAL album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Spirit in a Meat Suit
Babal Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars This is the third and final instalment of 'The Circle of Confusion of Tongues' series which started with that album in 2018 and was then followed up by 'Dreams For Imaginary Puppet Shows on the Radio' last year. Although over the years they have had other musicians involved, particularly for live shows, and have even performed under different names (with albums as Wise Children, then Babble, before Babal), at the heart of it all have been the same three musicians. The last few years have been particularly hard for Karen Langley (vocals) and Rob Williams (guitar, synths) who have both had serious illnesses, which is difficult at any time but during a pandemic is so much worse, yet somehow, they have combined again with Jon Sharp (drums) to create an album which is probably their most effective yet.

When I reviewed the first album in this trilogy, I stated they were heavily influenced by Frank Zappa, Bill Nelson, and Talking Heads in particular, but in many ways, this has moved away from Byrne and jumped headlong into art rock, krautrock, and experimental esoteric prog. At times this is just plain weird, yet somehow it always makes musical sense. This is music which feels symbiotic, created together at the same point in time as opposed to each musician coming in with their own parts. Sharp's intricate patterns and constantly changing approach is a key feature of the underlying sound, with Ron twisting different musical elements around those structures and then over the top there is Karen. At times she is singing gently, such as on closer "Through Hardship To The Stars", while at others she is challenging us, abrupt and sneering, both edgy and on the edge. At times it is melodic, and at others far more involved, daring us to go on the musical journey with them. It can be dreamy, restful, and pleasant, while at others it is jagged and harsh, abrupt, and staccato. There is always a great deal going on, and the ears are often attracted to one element or another, as the world is built, moulded, and constantly morphing into something else. Karen was too ill to be involved with the last album, but one would never guess there has been any past issues given her performance here which is controlled and full of presence.

At times this is not for the faint-hearted, and opener "Puss In Boots" is put there to see who is brave enough to continue the journey as it starts in a style where the vocals are at odds with the melody beneath. As it progresses it gets darker, almost industrial in its presence, with strange guitars and effects, but in many ways, it is the perfect opener as Babal immediately invite us into their unusual world, uncompromising and very much on their terms. Zappa, Bill Nelson, art rock, prog rock, krautrock, it is all here in 'Spirit In A Meat Suit'. "The liberation I feel from producing this work has literally been phenomenal", says Karen "sometimes I couldn't do any work for months and sometimes neither could Rob. We were like a musical see-saw; each helping the other go up if the other was down. I'm really happy with the result, we all are ? it's been well worth the persistence". Now could not be a better time to discover Babal.

 Dreams for Imaginary Puppet Shows on the Radio by BABAL album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.95 | 2 ratings

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Dreams for Imaginary Puppet Shows on the Radio
Babal Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars I know I am way behind where I need to be when a band sends me their new album and I realise I have not yet reviewed the last one, so although the brand-new release from Babal is 'Spirit In a Meat Suit', I will get to that one in the next week or so. Here we have the second in 'The Circle of Confusion of Tongues' trilogy, following on from the 2018 album of the same name. This is a very different release from Babal, due in no small part to the serious health issues which have impacted both Karen and Rob in recent yeras. In 2019 the band had to cease performing and recording as singer Karen was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer which required many chemotherapy sessions and a stem cell transplant. Although she is in remission, she of course has to be very careful indeed with her health, and COVID 19 has seen both her and Rob spend a great deal of their time indoors. She has also been unable to sing, so Babal did what they have always done, moved on and tried something different. Along with drummer Jon Sharp, they wrote and developed an album full of instrumental material, visualising them as if they were puppet shows on the radio. Helpfully, in the digipak there are a few lines against each song, saying what they were thinking of at the time, and what the music is supposed to be working with, all of which makes interesting reading.

For example, the description for opener "Gundy" starts with "Space age fossils hover over Devon..." seems like my home county is a theme this week. Babal have always been pushing boundaries, with albums moving in different directions, so releasing something which is instrumental makes total sense. Jon never settles into patterns but is always looking for different ways to move the sound and plays around the kit as opposed to any standard fashion, while Rob throws in multiple intermingling guitar lines when the time is right, or some poignant bass. Bill Nelson is still very much an influence, and the impression is much more of art rock than "straight" regressive progressive. It is incredibly layered, as one could well expect from musicians going stir crazy indoors, but it is never over the top and there is still plenty of room and space within the arrangements. Having the drums to the front of the mix also provides cut through and chops the music so there is never the risk of it becoming too over the top. Unable to have the focal point which is Karen, the band have instead shifted their music in a way which is somehow both complex and simplistic at the same time, the result being something that is incredibly enjoyable, and while immediate also pays repeated listening.

 Frank's Lament by BABAL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2020
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Frank's Lament
Babal Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars Released at the beginning of 2020, 'Frank's Lament' is the third of the EP's completing the second part of the trilogy, which will be finalised with the release of the '(I'm Just A) Spirit In A Meat Suit' later this year. Singer Karen Langley suffered a potentially terminal blood cancer in 2019 (she undertook extensive chemo, which was brutal, and a stem cell transplant), and she is now in remission. Because of this, the band has made the decision that all profits from this release will go to Macmillan Cancer Support. The last EP featured just two songs while this one has four, with the opening title cut being the longest at more than 9 minutes. A couple of shorter numbers then lead us into a live version of "Endless Re-Run Society".

The three EP's each run to more than 20 minutes in length, combining together to form one full-length album, so perhaps it isn't surprising they are similar in style, although "The Axe" is quite different to the others with a concentration on Karen's vocals combined with whirling synths. It makes me think of a very modern folk song in terms of its lyrics and approach, not something I would normally associate with this band. Karen is often using her voice as an instrument, challenging norms, so it is nice to hear her singing with emotion in a more "normal" manner. "Bones & Blood" starts off almost orchestral in fashion, but soon we get the jagged edge and syncopation as Rob and Jon come in to turn it into something quite different. Their music is a combination of performance art, space rock, krautrock, Talking Heads, RIO and experimentation and this all comes to a climax in the live cut which ends the EP. The three EP's together make quite a set, certainly worthy of investigation who wants their progressive rock to sound nothing like Genesis.

 The Big Everything by BABAL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2019
3.46 | 3 ratings

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The Big Everything
Babal Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Babal have had an interesting path to get to this point, combined with a refusal to conform to what anyone may actually expect of them. It is virtually impossible to pull together a complete discography as the guys live for their music and it is up to us to figure it out, and while they have been operating under the name Babal for some years they were previously known as Babble, and before that as Wise Children. In 2018 they released 'The Circle of Confusion of Tongues' which is the first part of a trilogy of albums. The second part is not a single album, but rather three EP's, which combine together. The first of these was "The Glacier", and "The Big Everything" is the second. The trio of Karen Langley (vocals), Rob Williams (guitars and synths) and Jon Sharp (drums) combine to form music which is a combination of performance art, space rock, krautrock, Talking Heads, RIO and experimentation to create something which is quite different to most other forms of progressive rock out there, but truly is that. For some reason they are listed on ProgArchives as crossover, but to my ears that is in the sense of them crossing over many sub genres as opposed to being the more commercial aspect that is normally associated with that sub, as this is eclectic in just so many way.

Just two songs on this EP, with the title cut being nearly 20 minutes in length and "Beggars To Chance" nearly 9. One thing I noticed with "The Big Everything" is that even though it is a long track, it certainly doesn't feel that way and I was soon dragged into the mysterious world which is Babal. Rob sent me a link to a live video of theirs, and as soon as I saw it everything fell into place and suddenly all their music made sense. The visual element of their music is incredibly important, and having now seen this, I know what they are doing. It meant I approached the two most recent releases quite differently to the album itself, which for some reason I never really got on top of, but now I understand the music far more. This is intriguing, complex, complicated, bringing in many different influences, and even atonal singing which makes total sense when it appears even if it is nothing like how Karen normally sounds. Well worth investigating.

 The Glacier by BABAL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2018
3.95 | 2 ratings

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The Glacier
Babal Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars I wasn't the biggest fan of Babal's 'The Circle of Confusion Of Tongues', but somehow felt the issue was more with my listening preferences as opposed to anything inherently wrong with the band, so when this EP arrived, I was looking forward to it. I don't know if it's me or the band which have changed, but the things which grated me on the album are now a delight, and the first time I listened to this I played it four times back to back. No-one could ever accuse Babal of not knowing their way around words, and opener 'The Involuntary Reflex of the Terminal Bastard' is one of the finest titles I have come across. It is also incredibly dark, intense, massively over the top, filled with invective and power. It took me a while for me to work out what it reminded me of, but eventually it dawned on me that it was making me think of Twelfth Night's 'Creepshow', even though it sounds nothing like it. The attack is menacing, as Karen Langley rips into the Bastard, which is described by the label as a slow build of soulful rhythms, hooks and grooves underlines a morality tale of the modern narcissist ' landlord, politician, parent, partner, sibling; the Bastard is a one-stop character who always has the upper hand ' until you decide to stop catching the ball.' I couldn't have put it better myself.

They slow it down with the title track, which features some glorious violin from guest Sarana Verlin, and Karen moves between spoken word and singing, which provides additional nuances. The band is completed by Rob Williams (guitars and synths) and drummer Jon Sharp, just as it was when they released their debut album as Wise Children some twenty years ago. The trio bring in guests as they need them, using what they need to weave their art rock, progressive, David Byrne-inspired Hawkwind look on the world. Just three songs, 23 minutes long, this is a great introduction to the world of Babal.

 The Circle of Confusion of Tongues by BABAL album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.00 | 1 ratings

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The Circle of Confusion of Tongues
Babal Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars This is the fourth album by UK art rock/psych/prog outfit Babal. The band is based around the core of singer Karen Langley and Rob Williams (guitars), with Jon Sharp (drums), Zoie Green (keyboards) and Ben Balsom (bass), and to be honest, I don't like it very much at all. But, I can appreciate it, and that's a difference. While I can't see myself ever playing this for pleasure, I can totally understand why a great many will be fascinated by this weird amalgam of Frank Zappa, Bill Nelson and Talking Heads (plus lots more). I've never understood the fascination with David Byrne, but as soon as I started listening to this I was reminded immediately of him, and would have been surprised if I hadn't come across him in relation to these guys, and wasn't disappointed.

There are musical layers upon layers, complex, often staccato and disjointed, all coming together in a strange mix where the drums are too far to the front. That is my only complaint on what is generally very strong production indeed, so that is an obvious choice as opposed to any failing. This really isn't my style of music though, but for anyone who is intrigued by the idea of David Byrne being involved with Zappa (in particular) then I do urge you to seek this one out, even though it is not for me. It has been released by Melodic Revolution Records on vinyl as well as CD and digitally

 The Big Everything by BABAL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2019
3.46 | 3 ratings

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The Big Everything
Babal Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Originally known as "Babble", this band from the UK changed their name to "Babal" in 2012. They are a Crossover Prog band and have released 1 full length album in 2018, and 2 EPs, one in 2018 and one in April of 2019. The latter EP is known as "The Big Everything" and is comprised of 2 tracks that have a total run time of 28 minutes. The core line up has consisted of Karen Langley on vocals; Rob Williams on guitars and sythesizers; and Jon Sharp on drums. There are also some guest musicians on this EP, namely Paul Smith on bass on the first track, Zoie Green on keyboards on the 2nd track, and Ben Balsom on bass on the 2nd track. Karen and Rob also write the lyrics and music.

The first track is the title song for the album "The Big Everything" which is a 19 minute epic track. Chiming guitars and shimmering effects bring in the unique vocals, which are quite enticing. The lyrics are definitely not your standard rhyming lyrics and have some really great phrasing. They also don't follow any standard melody structure either, making them sound more poetic. During the vocal breaks, synth and guitar continue to give a somewhat psychedelic sound, and even utilizes a trance-like quality, yet the music doesn't hide behind a haze like most psychedelic music. Vocals are clear and easy to understand. Vocals are spread out evenly throughout the song, yet there is still time left to have instrumental sections also. The vocals also range from a chant-like style to melodic, but never following any real thematic structure, and sometimes both styles are layered together. The music flows with the same rhythm and tempo through the entire track, which lends itself even more towards the psychedelic/space rock style. There are textural changes in the different instrumental breaks (and even within the vocals) however, so over it's long play time, at least it strives to not become stagnant. Wordless vocals towards the last section of the track treat the voice as an improvising instrument.

"Beggars to Chance" is the 2nd track and is almost 9 minutes long. A faster drum beat bring in the soft guitar notes and synth effects as a nice groove is established. After a while, the guitar intensifies and continues to improvise. Vocals come in after 2 minutes. There are some interesting dissonant harmonies that go on here that keep things interesting. Later, some nice keyboards are added to soften things up a bit as the non-standard lyrical and thematic sounds continue. As before, the rhythm remains constant, while the vocals and improvisation parts bring about changes in style, tone and texture. Around 6 minutes, the rhythm drops out as the music and vocals carry the rest of the track to the end.

This is definitely an interesting sound, the lyrics and vocals are poetic, the rhythm constant in most cases and everything else responsible for bringing about variety through both of the long tracks. This is music that grows on you, that can have an effect on you like trance music, but still ever changing to keep you interested. I'm not sure if a full-length album would have made this a stronger release, but as it is, the biggest drawback is the shortness of it all. At least it intrigues me and makes me want to explore some of their other releases. This could almost be a 4 star release, but it just misses that mark.

Thanks to dAmOxT7942 for the artist addition. and to kev rowland for the last updates

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