Babylonian Tiles - "Teknicolour Aftermath"
(Pangea Music 2000, CD)
From Aural Innovations #10 (June 2000)
You have to love someone who digs Hawkwind, Henry Cow, and the Dead Kennedy's. But this only paints a small picture of Bryna Golden's varied musical interests, a diversity that is reflected in Babylonian Tiles' intense brand of heavy rocking psychedelia that includes elements that will appeal to psych fans, spacerockers, and prog rockers alike. "Teknicolour Aftermath" is the band's third full-length release. The band includes Bryna Golden (aka The Hip Death Goddess) on vocals and keyboards, Tim Thayer on guitar, Brian Schreiber on drums, and Christian Ramsey on bass.
Babylonian Tiles is difficult to describe. The music rocks hard, but is heavily psychedelic. At their core the songs often have a pop-psych feel, but the music is too heavy, dramatic, and instrumentally complex to use that term as anything more than an impression. And by instrumentally complex I mean the interaction and cooperation between the musicians. This is a very tight band. The musicians don't solo, but attentive listening reveals a group in which the sum is clearly the whole of its parts. The interplay between the instruments is right on the mark, and the disc is loaded with brief and subtle instrumental bits that make for impressive moments, all contributing to the entirety of the songs.
If appearances are to be judged, then Babylonian Tiles is a Goth band, and apparently it's the Goth/Darkwave community that has embraced them up to this point. I'm not tuned into this scene but listening from a psych, space, and progrock perspective Babylonian Tiles has a great deal of crossover appeal. But if this is what Goth music sounds like than I'm prepared to conduct a full investigation. Among the standout tracks on "Teknicolour Aftermath"...
"Boulevard (Version 2000)" opens the set with Bryna's trippy, chanting, Indian/Middle Eastern influenced vocals. The song is a great rocker but the vocals and background organ give the music its psychedelic edge. And it's this combination of heavy rock with tripped out acid-psych that gives the band their trademark sound and makes them also difficult to pigeonhole. "Electrified Eyes" is a more purely psychedelic track with Bryna's high-pitched eerie keyboards more in the forefront. I love the contrast and resulting sound from Thayer's guitar and Bryna's keys. This contrast is even more powerful on "Each Dying Breath", a driving rocker that would make a great concert opening tune.
"Your Universe Is Creeping" is a good example of Babylonian Tiles' crossover appeal to the space/psych/prog crowed. The song has a full sound and lots of cool instrumental segments, with the song building up to furious levels of intensity, only to end abruptly and leaving me a bit dazed. The most intense tracks on the disc though are the two closers. "Far Far Away (Version 2000)" is another driving rocker that includes slower-paced, but no less intense, instrumental segments. The song segues smoothly into the closing track, "Crystal Gavel", an even more blistering rocker. These two tracks together absolutely SMOKE!! A killer finale to a wonderful collection of songs. The band also do a cosmic version of Donovan's classic "Season Of The Witch". Recommended.
For more information you can visit Babylonian Tiles at their web site.
You can listen to sound files at their Mp3.com web site.
And to explore the Hip Death Goddess' world further you can check out Bryna Golden's personal web site.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz