Babylon Circus Live at Lowlands Festival 2012 – Recorded by VPRO, Netherlands – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Babylon Circus to kick off the week. A band that, even though their bio calls them ska and reggae, miss the major mashup of a whole pile of genres, the end result is this intoxicating stew of sonic amazement.
Here is a press assessment of the band, which is pretty spot-on:
“Babylon Circus, French blenders of ska-punk chanson, funk, afro-beat and dancehall reggae, with a healthy dollop of Eastern European folklore, are set to rouse the crowd with their multi-lingual chicanery, improvised comedy and big-top energy. This 10-piece big band have been zigzagging the globe with their epic and infatuating sonic spectacle.” (Sydney Festival)
Formed by Baruchel in Lyon, France in 1995, Babylon Circus started out as more of a straight-ahead ska band. But they ended up becoming a lot more experimental and eclectic, drawing on everything from reggae (which came out of ska) to British punk to jazz (especially guitarist Django Reinhardt’s Parisian gypsy swing of the 1930s and ’40s) and cabaret. Babylon Circus is an appropriate name for the band because some of their material has, in fact, been influenced by circus music, and their other influences range from French chanson (as in Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel) to African pop to East European folk (mainly gypsy music from the Baltic region). The list of artists who have influenced them either directly or indirectly is a long one, ranging from classic Jamaican ska and reggae stars like the Skatalites, Toots & the Maytals, and Bob Marley & the Wailers to British punk pioneers the Clash to the French worldbeat band Lo’Jo. Some of their work has hinted at early Tom Waits, and British ska revival bands of the ’70s and ’80s such as Madness and the Specials have also affected their far-reaching work.
Dances of Resistance, Babylon Circus’ first recording was a demo that they circulated in France in 1996. Their EP Tout Va Bien came out in France in 1999, and that release was followed by their full-length album Au Marché des Illusions in 2001. Babylon Circus’ next full-length album, Dances of Resistance, Babylon Circus’ first recording was a demo that they circulated in France in 1996. Their EP Tout Va Bien came out in France in 1999, and that release was followed by their full-length album Au Marché des Illusions in 2001. Their next full-length album, Dances of Resistance, was released in France in 2004 before being released on the Mr. Bongo label in the United States in April 2008. Their 2008 lineup consisted of Baruchel and Manuel Nectoux on lead vocals, Georges Chaccour on electric guitar, Basile Mouton on electric bass, Olivier Soumali on electric keyboards, Clement Amirault on trombone, Christophe Millot on saxophone and accordion, Laurent Sedent on trumpet, and David Doineaux on drums.
Hit the Play button and be amazed.