Cream Abdul Babar
The Catalyst to Ruins
At A Loss
It was the positively glowing review in Terrorizer rag that finally got me off my ass to write THIS review. According to aforementioned sage tome, our boys Cream are gonna be the it thing that we’ll all be talking about in our year-end lists. On that point, I’ll gently concur; surely the ultraviolence whirlwind that is the Babar have outfought and outscreamed all other pretenders to the throne of most inspirational Florida live experience, and surely by now, they’re close to the top of the noisecore heap. In fact, give ‘em a couple more records, and people will be talking about them in the same hushed and reverent tones with which they discuss The Dillinger Escape Plan and even Fantomas. To think I once had the luxury of seeing them regularly in Tallahassee.
“Kill People” starts the record off in promising fashion, taking your basic hardcore song template and battering it to pieces in speedfuck fashion. “It’s Hard to See When You’re Laughing” is a decent enough instrumental piece (or so I thought) that really kicks in about 3/4 of the way in, with Ian laying down flood plains of agonized screams and a gritty doomed bass riff that I’m a sucker for. “E is for Intelligent” skitters back and forth paranoically like a scratched record or an infinite loop. Catalyst gets really interesting (and compelling) on the expectations-confounding “A Guide to Home Ownership” – soft, lulling clicks, tape reversing and treatments. I fucking love it. “Blown Goat” starts off, for my money, like The Cure circa Pornography, but inevitably ends in a pile of bleeding larynxes, broken amps and ringing ears. Thrilling stuff. “Blast And Damn” leaves me feeling kind of cold, it lacks both the experimental tendencies or visceral bodyblows of the other tracks; bizarrely, as if to compensate for the music’s weakness, Ian gives possibly his strongest vocal performance on the whole record. We’ll call it even.
“Todd Space is My Day Job,” “Empire of the Dead,” and “Specialization is For Insects” pop up on Catalyst, and though I wonder why they were plucked from Buried in Broken Glass, they’re all three superlative songs and a pleasure to listen to. That leaves the last two new’uns, “Tijuana Donkey Ride,” a mescaline-powered Integrity-worshipping punk stomp that I fucking love, which then segues rudely into the harsh Merz electronoise of “Attack Ships on Fire.” A true coup. Wish the sound could have been mixed way louder, but full fucking marks for the willingness to evolve and conquer.