"Id made a note of the name after driving past a sign when I was on tour in 2014. Cut to a few years
later and the studio where I recorded the album was being knocked down just a week after I
finished to make way for a luxury apartment development. I was looking for a name that evoked
the Tower of Babel - people building towers to reach an idea of heaven (but maybe creating a kind
of hell - Im an atheist by the way!) In any case I had written Babelsberg down and when I listened
to the songs together, it finally made sense why Id done that.
Babelsberg is the fifth album by Gruff Rhys, his first record for Rough Trade since 2007s classic
The albums ten tracks were initially recorded in early 2016 in a whirlwind three day session that
took place before producer Ali Chants studio was demolished. The band he gathered for the record
were his regular drummer Kliph Scurlock (ex-Flaming Lips) and multi-instrumentalists Stephen
Black (Sweet Baboo) and Osian Gwynedd. The ten tracks then hibernated for eighteen months,
awaiting orchestral scores by Swansea based composer Stephen McNeff and the incredible work of
the 72 piece BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
The result is Gruffs best record to date - a ten song gazetteer of modern times, each track set to
timeless, indelible melody. Amazingly, for a collection of songs written over two years ago, each one
seems to pull very sharp focus on the times were living in.
Over the course of Babelsbergs forty something minutes, Gruff manages to perfectly document
our troubled and troubling times with humour, grace and always addictive melody. In a career
thats spanned three decades, two languages, multiple bands, offshoots, collaborations and one
boundless imagination, Babelsberg is arguably Gruffs finest set of songs to date. And were willing
to have that argument.
The first track from Babelsberg Frontier Man is online now.