Babalu: The Ultra Wide Band Meets the Mighty Babalu Pt. 2

The Ultra Wide Band Meets the Mighty Babalu Pt. 2 In Hi-Fi Lo-Tech Spaceblues
Kindercore/Electric Watusi Boogaloo

The Ultra Wide Band Meets The Mighty Babalu Pt. 2 In Hi-Fi Lo-Tech Spaceblues is such an organic album, you could probably play it before a Medeski, Martin, and Wood show and get some of the tie-dyes in the audience to wiggle around and pump their elbows a little, if not actually dance. The release represents the labors of an electronica supergroup of sorts: Babalu is a loose collective of Swedish, English, and American sound wranglers associated with Electronic Watusi Boogaloo, Kindercore's electronica imprint. And while Pt. 2 is by no means a jam record in the traditional sense, it does offer a good deal more real-time improvisation, not to mention actual playing, than most any other loop-based disc currently in the bins.

The lion's share of Pt.2's jammy feel comes from the collective nature of the compositions, which run considerably denser than anything that the posse's constituent parts have generated on their own. The tracks are every bit as long on melodic interplay as they are on filter sweeps and intergalactic glissandi--which is plenty. While tempos and rhythmic strategies run the gamut from the blissed-out, downtempo "Happiness" to the breakbeat-driven space jazz of "Groove Architecture," the album seems to be consistently guided by the playfulness of early Krautrock, albeit in a thoroughly up-to-date fashion. Even electrofunk workouts like the acid-flavored "Change de Pace" and "Music for Headphones," the loopiest track on the disc, eschew electro robotica in favor of tonal color and pure play.

And like the creations of many early Krautrockers (Kraftwerk, Neu!, and Amon Düül, for example), Pt.2 is loaded with charm. But the players deploy that charm more strategically than their progenitors. Pt. 2 is intelligent without displaying a trace of IDM's stump the chump attitude. It's laid back without falling into chill-out catatonia. And, most exceptionally for loop-based electronics, it displays a loose-limbed affability that many post-rockers would do well to emulate.