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‘Native Birds’ is short and poppy, like Babare’s earlier work, but sonically lush, with horns, synth and electronic miscellanea weaving together to create a melodic lead worthy of Brian Wilson or Jim O’Rourke. Lyrically, every line folds gently into the next, in an approach figurative, melancholic, generous and wry. The song foreshadows the themes that plot a line through his forthcoming album – family, obligation, and how the natural world haunts our atomized existences in ways both terrible and sublime. This is never an academic exercise for Babare, though; as with the best pop music he never labors the point, but refracts something weird and vital through its familiar form.
The accompanying clip captures innate warmth of Native Birds by Babare and his dog frolicking around wildly, sharing a mutual joy in having nothing to do but revel in each other’s company. His nuanced lyricism and infectious choruses are met with the nostalgic love between a man and his doggo, enjoying fruitful romps through abandoned cityscapes and warehouses.
Pascal Babare is a music composer and producer, living and working in Melbourne, Australia.
Born on the very same day as Canadian rap superstar Drake, Babare spent his early childhood living between the suburban sprawl of Melbourne and Sydney and an ashram in Lake County, California. At age five, he sent a letter to Brian Wilson, thanking him for Pet Sounds. (Wilson responded years later with a signed photo of himself and his poodle in front of a wall of Pet Sounds LPs.) Then, at age six, Babare was diagnosed with cancer, an experience that likely went on to inform the darker shades of his music, from the black humor of his considered lyrics to his absurdist’s take on mortality and death.
In his early teens, he inherited a drum-kit from a feminist power-punk trio (the same kit he uses to this day), and taught himself to play. After earnest-but-failed attempts at blues guitar, trumpet and piano, he moved to his laptop, making Cafe-Del-Mar inspired instrumental hip hop. Thanks to an internet virus, this era of Babare’s work was mercifully lost forever, but the lesson stuck: manipulating the studio, in whatever form it came, was every bit as important as chords and melodies. And so, a few years later, he began to record the guitar noodling, field recordings and instrumental segues that would become his first solo LP, Thunderclap Spring.
Shortly before his 20th birthday, Babare moved to Kyoto, Japan, and quickly fell in love with the rivers, bathhouses, mountains, and otherworldly flute sounds of the recycling trucks there. He left for Europe a year later, touring with the band Function Ensemble for a month. The tour finished in Berlin, where he stayed for another year, beginning work on his second solo LP, Sorry, Morning.
With two LP’s worth of material on his hard-drive, he set out for sunny England, finding a home on the London indie label Blackmaps. The label released Thunderclap Spring to great acclaim in 2009, with the album’s rambling, left-field reinterpretation of Joy Division’s “Ceremony” attracting the attention of the BBC and NME.
Babare returned to Melbourne in 2009 and broke somewhat from the insular world of solo recording. He studied sound art at RMIT, and played in bands Pascal Babare & Teeth, Aleks and The Ramps, Mallee Songs, Tailor Made For A Small Room, and Magic Hands. In 2015 he teamed up with long-time musical friends Matthew Nicholson and Lucy Roleff to form the Avant-Electronic band AT/ALL, who self-released their debut LP Sun Dog in 2016.
In the midst of these sudden bursts of collaboration, Babare drew together the pieces of solo LP number three, whose structure and atmosphere reflects this communal spirit and the advances in sound engineering he absorbed while producing tv soundtracks for Electric Dreams studios in Melbourne. The result is his most fully realized work to date, an album that draws on the wide-eyed dream-pop of Thunderclap, expands on the sprawl and intricacy of Sorry, Morning, and burnishes the edges of his personal, evocative lyricism.
Alex Badham, edited by Pooneh Ghana
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