Christoph De Babalon
If You’re Into It, I’m Out Of It
Digital Hardcore/Grand Royal
How, you may wonder, does Christoph de Babalon deign to begin the most exhilarating and challenging electronic/noise/techno/drum-and-bass/whatever record in recent memory? With a ten-plus minute percussionless dirge-shriek entitled “Opium,” that’s how. Just like Third Eye Foundation or the Melvins at their most immovable, but more like vapor trails and dementia.
I had written off the DHR label in the wake of the aesthetic one-dimensionality of Shizuo, EC8OR, Sonic Subjunkies, and even Atari Teenage Riot. My fears mounted as the whole operation appeared to be sucked helplessly into the vacuum of NYC hipster paralysis. Jon Spencer remixes? Puh-leeese. But this one record makes the whole sorry scenario worthwhile. From what I can gather, Christoph de Babalon has been actively destroying music and being a John Peel darling since 1994, though this is his first full-length. He’s based in Germany, there’s another hint. Can I just add one more biographical note about Babalon before I talk about the record? He looks eerily like Ian Curtis in every photo I have seen. This is an important point of context in understanding the techno-existential hell of If You’re Into It, I’m Out Of It.
The exhilaration never fades after “Opium.” “Nostep” is best described as a cross between a circuit board shorting out and a seizure. “What You Call a Life” is simply gorgeous, crossing deranged spoken samples with hyper beats like a suicidal Photek. “Dead (Too)” and “Damaged III” are all nervous twitches and paranoia — vicious and unrelenting. The Photek (and this is a good thing) ghost shows its face again in “Release” — with perfect crystal layers of drum programming. Intriguingly, the record is divided into four sides, each side beginning with an epic ambient funeral arrangement before the aggression begins again. There could be a conceptual arrangement but I was too enraptured by the drum and bass void closer of “My Confession” to formulate any grand theories. That Babalon can so effectively balance the necessities of silence and noise is just another testament to his…
There is not one flaw on this album. Babalon manipulates isolationism, jungle, drone, illbient, experimental noise — it’s all his for the taking now. If there were any appreciation of true art left in the music industry, 80% of all musicians would be happily retiring upon hearing If You’re Into It… and Cat Power’s Moon Pix, then becoming shoe salesmen just because they knew that they could never better this. Not this one.
Never have I heard such an evocative, lyrical album, without any words at all. Babalon’s sound excursions are obviously intensely personal and terrifying at the same time. Mick Harris and Richard (Aphex Twin) James are the only two reference points I would dare to suggest to you. If You’re Into It… is gloriously self-indulgent and unhinged, like everything that is young and snotty and brilliant. Step to this. Grand Royal Records, P.O. Box 26689, Los Angeles, CA 90026