Tuesday, August 16, 2016

CD Review: BABEL "MIND THIEF" (the complete Grid Series recordings) (Arachnidiscs)

[$10 CAD // https://arachnidiscs.bandcamp.com/album/mind-thief-the-complete-grid-series-recordings]

Recently, I received an email from Bandcamp informing me that two new Babel CDs were available through the Arachnidiscs Bandcamp page.   Now, as someone who loves cassettes I need it to be noted that I love good music more than cassettes so seeing these as compact discs didn't make me go, "Oh, fuck that" and hold out for cassette releases or just be bitter that they weren't released on cassette.    I was really just excited to hear new music by Babel and so I went on over to the Arachnidiscs Bandcamp page.   While there, I found out that the two new Babel CDs were also double disc sets and- guess what- here was this other double disc set called "Mind Thief" I didn't remember seeing and so I thought, what the hell, let's get all three double disc sets at once since shipping to/from Canada can sometimes be a pain.

I also must note that a lot of what can be typed about "Mind Thief" can be done so under my mindset when listening to it.   If I was to receive what I felt to be a lot of music (And this is, in all fairness, a lot of music from Babel) at once I might feel overwhelmed.   I might listen to it and by the third or fourth release just get to the point where I feel like it's more of the same and it's not as easy to write about it.   Hell, I feel that way sometimes just listening to releases from artists when I've already heard five or more releases from them before that.  (And I'm not talking about the ones I review so much as the ones I listen to which I hope will make me a fan of the artist everyone else seems to like and I just keep not hearing/feeling it)  When these CDs arrived in the mail though I was excited.   I put "Mind Thief" on right away and went into this review not feeling overwhelmed but rather like I was about to embark upon an adventure, the likes of which would leave me forever changed by the conclusion.

The first thing you need to know about "Mind Thief" is that not only is it a two disc set, but it is a HUGE two disc set.   Disc 1 has 17 tracks while Disc 2 has a whopping 18 and they both clock in just over the 70 minute mark.    I tend to use minutes for movies, but at 140 minutes is so this is like a 2 hr 20 min movie right here.   It's not just that this is a double disc set though.   Just listening to the songs on the first disc make you feel like you're getting more than other artists put together as a single album.    So if you want to assign a number to it and say that just one disc can feel like two, maybe three albums in comparisons to other artists, then you also need to factor in that has to be *doubled* here and you're just getting a whole hell of a lot of BABEL, which is not a bad thing.

While the music can be synth-based in nature, looking at the artwork for this one makes me think it's going to sound more like "Tron" than it actually does.    From ambient to flat out electronic dance party, these songs have hints of "Doctor Who" while also feeling like they primarily take place in space.    Through drum machines come feelings of "Halloween" and just a John Carpenter presence overall.    It can loop, it can sort of scream at times and it can even drone.    This is one of those essential synth based pieces of music because it just seems to push synth to new levels and really show you what can be done in not only modern times (I'm looking at you, Muse) but in the 1980's/early 1990's when you think of "Beverly Hills Cop" and that sort of thing.

There exists this eerie sense to the music as well.  I suppose that could come with the "Doctor Who" references I feel, but it also has elements of "The X-Files" in it as well.   At times you feel like you could really be getting into trouble, yet other times could leave you at the edge of your seat, biting your nails.    There is also this energy in the music, which changes levels at times but it never really seems to die down to the point where you just feel like you're endlessly floating through space-- it always maintains a steady drive; no downtime.

Much like how Queen curated a soundtrack to the movie "Flash Gordon", I suspect this of being some similar soundtrack to some lost or forgotten movie which I'm sure I would have really loved had I seen it in the 1980's or even later on in my teens.    With all of the different components there really isn't really a better way than to describe this one as a space synth odyssey, but for all of the music you'll be experiencing that seems like such a vast understatement.

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