Barab'bas - The Barab'bas Tapes
Experimental The weekend when Easter and Passover overlap seems the most apropos time of year to review a group that derives its name from Jesus Barabbas, who was sentenced to death by crucifixion alongside another fellow named Jesus (who gets all the press these days), but was spared being nailed to a tree by a combination of Passover tradition and popular vote.

Barab'bas, who bill themselves as an 'open-ended music-collective', put together 'The Barab'bas Tapes', a 5-track release of experimental music made up of electronics, field recordings, improvised instruments, and vocals. Despite the name and the imagery they use on the album cover, the tracks found here appear o have little or nothing to do with Biblical themes at all.

Listening through this short release of loops, electronic music, noise of various colors, and heavily obscured vocals, I felt transported back the days when experimental music first started to show up among tape traders. Most of the tracks, like the opener, 'The Crash' are built upon growing layers of weird loops, repetitive low frequency noise that fades in and out with noticeable heavy panning, vocal loops. Some of the tracks have more ambient feel, like 'Chandreshekar Limit' and 'Obsidian', and they all dispense with common musical devices such as time signatures. Also, the noise aspect of the music is kept in check; this never turns into wall-of-noise power electronics, but various shades of noise are employed throughout.

All in all, Barab'bas brings to mind the crop of experimental artists of the 80's who brought together a combination of electronic music, cut-ups, field recordings, and acoustic instruments to create something unique. Thousands of these acts have come and gone over the last several decades. Some, like Smegma and Nurse With Wound, have endured and evolved; I'm glad to see the tradition of the pseudo-anonymous experimental act continues to live on.

The music here reasonably interesting and feels purposeful. Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of experimental music in this vein is that with decades of preceding works, it' are only a handful of experimental acts that are adept at bringing the listener fully into the experience outside of a live performance. I'd enjoy a live Barab'bas performance, but the digital version doesn't quite enthrall me. At the same time, the group has made its work available for free on Bandcamp, so if you enjoy discovering new experimental acts, I would encourage you to do as the crowd did on Passover so many years ago and cry, "Free Barabbas!"
3
Brutal Resonance

Barab'bas - The Barab'bas Tapes

5.0
"Mediocre"
N/A
Electroracle
Released off label 2010
The weekend when Easter and Passover overlap seems the most apropos time of year to review a group that derives its name from Jesus Barabbas, who was sentenced to death by crucifixion alongside another fellow named Jesus (who gets all the press these days), but was spared being nailed to a tree by a combination of Passover tradition and popular vote.

Barab'bas, who bill themselves as an 'open-ended music-collective', put together 'The Barab'bas Tapes', a 5-track release of experimental music made up of electronics, field recordings, improvised instruments, and vocals. Despite the name and the imagery they use on the album cover, the tracks found here appear o have little or nothing to do with Biblical themes at all.

Listening through this short release of loops, electronic music, noise of various colors, and heavily obscured vocals, I felt transported back the days when experimental music first started to show up among tape traders. Most of the tracks, like the opener, 'The Crash' are built upon growing layers of weird loops, repetitive low frequency noise that fades in and out with noticeable heavy panning, vocal loops. Some of the tracks have more ambient feel, like 'Chandreshekar Limit' and 'Obsidian', and they all dispense with common musical devices such as time signatures. Also, the noise aspect of the music is kept in check; this never turns into wall-of-noise power electronics, but various shades of noise are employed throughout.

All in all, Barab'bas brings to mind the crop of experimental artists of the 80's who brought together a combination of electronic music, cut-ups, field recordings, and acoustic instruments to create something unique. Thousands of these acts have come and gone over the last several decades. Some, like Smegma and Nurse With Wound, have endured and evolved; I'm glad to see the tradition of the pseudo-anonymous experimental act continues to live on.

The music here reasonably interesting and feels purposeful. Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of experimental music in this vein is that with decades of preceding works, it' are only a handful of experimental acts that are adept at bringing the listener fully into the experience outside of a live performance. I'd enjoy a live Barab'bas performance, but the digital version doesn't quite enthrall me. At the same time, the group has made its work available for free on Bandcamp, so if you enjoy discovering new experimental acts, I would encourage you to do as the crowd did on Passover so many years ago and cry, "Free Barabbas!"
Apr 09 2012

Off label

Official release released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.

Karl Middlebrooks

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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