The Cutest Babyhead Ever is a very trippy band. They’ll really chill you out, and then without warning get really fast and grinding. A theme of controlled insanity is apparent all through this album, but that’s not the only one. “Panoply” reeks of themes. It’s a thematic album.
Babyhead is a two-piece comprised of Brett Levinthal on drums, and Brett Zweiman on everything else. The grindcore influence in the band comes from Levinthal, while Zweiman is more of a hardcore Pink Floyd fan. Keep this in mind when listening to the album–the music is a fairly accurate combination of grindcore and Pink Floyd.
The tracks have a tendency to rattle your head, shaking your brain around with insane grindcore heaviness mixed with brief, softer passages that often act as segues between songs. It’s like Babyhead knows you need a little time to relax between tracks, for maximum enjoyment. It works, too. It’s nice of them to do that; it shows a respect for the listener. Babyhead take you all over the map with Panoply, and in doing so the album never becomes boring.
“Musically it’s about exploring different emotions through dynamics,” Zweiman said in an email. “Fast/slow, pretty/ugly, loud/soft. It’s pretty cool how much softer something can sound when standing by something really loud.”
Zweiman did a bit of field recording for the album, which helps to take the listener further into the reality of Babyhead than strictly guitar, bass and drums would. “The first interlude on the end of the first track is an african drum circle that meets every Sunday in Prospect Park, Brooklyn during the summer,” Zweiman said. “I layered the music on top of them, they are awesome, about 150 people drumming each week.”
Zweiman’s aim for this album was to almost take a back seat with the shaping of the sound. “My aim is to keep it as pure as I can without my ego mucking it up,” he said.
Now, some (read: most) people are not going to like this type of music, like my co-worker who called it “infuriating.” The album is definitely designed for the avant garde crowd.
The EP opens with “Gallimaufry,” a double kick drum-heavy piece with syncopated rhythms that don’t seem to fit in a 4/4 time signature. It’s somehow relaxing.
“Fire” has a prominent melody running through the whole song. The vocals sing the melody during the verses, and during the chorus the guitar plays it with single notes plucked in a high register. It’s really cool when a second guitar comes in, playing harmony. The rhythm of the song is in a one-two format, with weird chords that I can’t figure out, but I like them. At the end of the track, the song deconstructs into slow, fluid acoustic guitar, more bongos, and a tambourine. The shift in mood is indicative of the way Babyhead always keeps you guessing–musically they stay fresh. There’s always something new to pay attention to.
When “The Bow” starts, it’s straight back into the grind, with more of those awesomely shrieky black metal vocals, shifting occasionally and briefly into spacey, single-string plucked jazz. But it’s only brief, and the rest of the song rocks in a very destructive and yet melodic way.
“Cosmic Rips” begins with a sample from the movie Spaceballs, then it slams you into fast, black grindcore. It wastes no time. The vocals are shrill, horror-movie bloody murder screams.
“Sleeping never waking/ Dreaming eyes are blinking/ Thinking ships are sinking” Zweiman screams over jazzy, distorted chords and grinding drums on “Cosmic Rips.” Then we shift into a slower, thoughtful grind rhythm (if that’s possible). The guitars play an epic, harmonic melody, then into an insane downward spiral of notes and really fast beats for four short bursts. Like previous tracks, the end of this one slows down to very mellow acoustic guitars and lightly splashing cymbals.
The final track, “The Devil is Five,” is the craziest on the album, mostly because of Zweiman’s 5-year-old cousin Marco doing some insane laughing and baritone, metal screaming.
“I played the track for him and set up the mic, made faces, provoked him into screaming,” Zweiman said. “He had a blast.”
The music shifts from pure metal, then to grind, and then into some weird soft jazz. At around 2:30, when the song is over, the last thing you hear are Marco’s screams.
A very well put together album from talented musicians doing some really weird and cool music. I highly recommend this one. Babyhead has the potential to reach many ears, and I can’t wait to hear what they do next.
– Glenn Doom
Release: February 2009
Label: ONESTROKEFACE MUSIC
Avantgenre: Avantgarde Metal
Duration: 20 Minutes
Origin: New York
Official site: http://www.myspace.com/thecutestbabyheadever
Review online since: 06.10.2009 / 21:56:05
01 – Gallimaufry
02 – Fire
03 – The Bow
04 – Fetid
05 – Cosmic Rips
06 – The Devil Is Five