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Babal

Who Will I Be When I Leave?

Review by Gary Hill

It's a pretty safe bet that you have never heard a band quite like this one. Their mix of sounds is decidedly artsy and freaky weird. This is the kind of thing that changes frequently and is very far off from mainstream. It's also incredibly interesting and thought provoking. As unusual as this is, I like it a lot.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
3 Minutes
Non-lyrical vocals open this. Other elements are added to the mix pretty quickly. This is a driving, strange, yet captivating number as the first sung vocals are heard. The song begins transforming and evolving after that first vocal section. I am reminded at times of Muse, but other things here make me think of The Residents. This is artsy and tastefully weird. This has so many intriguing variants along its run. Some parts land closer to mainstream old-school prog. At other points, hints of metallic angles emerge for a time.
Sitting Pretty
As this energetic arrangement gets underway I'm reminded of Yes to a large degree. When it shifts for the entrance of the vocals I can make out both The Residents and Frank Zappa. This is every bit as widely spanning in sounds as the opener was. There are a lot of examples of weirdness along with quite a bit of more mainstream sounds. This has some 80s vibes at points. Some of the vocals make me think of Adrian Belew's work in King Crimson, and some of the music also leans in that direction. There are fusion-like things here at times, too. All in all, this is quite the ride and a unique sounding piece.
Corkscrew Rider

Somehow I can hear some hints of Roxy Music on this number. The cut has plenty of those strange proggy elements. There are some forays into science-fiction music territory. The powerful lines of guitar on this are so cool. There is movement that takes us into some really spacey, psychedelically angled sound. We also get some decidedly heavy King Crimson-like guitar sound. We're taken into trippy, fusion-like spacey jamming later in the track.

Dead End Friends
This features the same unique and ever-changing tapestry of sounds as the rest of the album. A stunning instrumental break with hard rocking King Crimson-like jamming mid-track is one of the strongest musical passages of the whole album. In a lot of ways, this is among the best songs here.
The Wolf Slips Up Quickly
While no big changes are on the menu, this has some particularly rich soundscapes. It also features some stunning changes and intriguing sounds. The usual reference points are valid to greater and less degrees here. This is cut from much the same cloth as the rest of the album, but it's far from a carbon copy of any kind.
Made Without Instructions
Another stunning and unique song, this has some killer Crimsonian moments and much more. Overall it's not a paradigm shift, but it has plenty of its own character. There are some theatrical, almost punky moments here at times.
Baby Wants Freedom
There are some topical elements to the lyrics of this song. Yet, they are thinly veiled in allegory and symbolism. I really love that aspect of this song. Musically this is mellower than some of the rest, but no less unusual and complex. It's perhaps a little less jarring. If there a mainstream track here (hint: there isn't), it would be this one. A later section has more of that 80s King Crimson vibe to it.
Doors
There are some particularly trippy moments here. This is still packed full of twists and turns, though, so don't get comfortable. It gets pretty driving at points. There is a cool fusion meets trippy space rock movement later that is very cool. Then they take it into full fierce King Crimson-like jamming as it approaches the end of the song.
Who Will I Be When I Leave?
The title track closes the album. It comes in with some cool fusion meets art rock and prog. At less than four-minutes in length, this is the shortest piece here. It's also the most constant. That creates an almost grounding effect perfect for ending the album.
 
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