Eastern Tales, the debut album by Babylon Tree

Babylon Tree is an instrumental heavy psych band from Athens, Greece. The six member band recently released their debut album, Eastern Tales. On it, the band attempts to capture the aesthetic of the Far-East. Their music is positively Middle-Eastern sounding, employing the use of Persian scales. The album art, created by Manster Design, adds to that feel, with the incorporation of dunes, a snake-hosed hookah, a spired city in the distance, and an Eastern motif.

“…a richly layered composition…”

The album is made up of six songs, each around 8-10 minutes, and each is a richly layered composition. There are the usual modern instruments like keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, and drums, but the band also adds in older, more traditional instruments, such as the ud, lute, and hammered dulcimer. The band’s sound ends up having many qualities of world music, but with the heavy groove of stoner rock. Their music is unique, but perhaps carries echoes of albums like Microtonal Flying Banana by King Gizzard.

The opening track, Anatolia (8:44), sets the tone with some tasty hand percussion and a nice clean guitar melody, and then we’re introduced to the deep, rich tones of the bass, which stand out consistently throughout the whole album. The song has a great oriental vibe and includes a creative organ section, guitar solos with some nice wah pedal and effect work, and some heavier breakdowns of the riff in the last half. The style, with its slow and contemplative Middle-Eastern themes, is almost like proto-surf music. The only complaint I have is that there are some organ tones toward the beginning which hit some volume peaks and sound like they are a little hot in the mix.

Dunes and Wind (10:17) introduces a psychedelic tremolo effect on the guitar, and features some great interplay between the bass and organ. There several transitions throughout the song that keep things interesting. The real highlight of the song is the extended use of the unique sounding hammered dulcimer at the end of the song.

Alawith (9:51) opens with a heavy bass-led rhythm section, laced with bells and hand percussion. The sound is very cohesive, with string-orchestra sounds on the keyboard. About halfway through, at the 5:15 mark, the song becomes more driving and heavy and the song features an awesome oriental sounding guitar solo complemented by a cool triplet pattern on the ride cymbal.

Sphinx (8:15) has a very authentic sounding opening with rich, blended layers that create a darker tone for the track. The song is very psychedelic and includes authentic instruments like the ud and lute, lots of hand percussion, mind-bending organ solos, and some funky wah-pedal action.

Bedouins (9:15) opens with a calculated guitar line leading into a groovy rhythm section which includes some beautiful guitar layers and heavy bass. The track features a syncopated, progressive section, some interesting stereo effects, and a classical sounding guitar solo. However, the song is hampered a little bit by some overly dissonant guitar notes and a meandering pace.

The closing track, Red Snake (8:40), is consistent with the rest of the album. It does change things up slightly by adding a trippy, spacier psychedelic section after the introduction, as well as several cool transitions throughout.

“…get lost in the rich layers and infectious groove patterns…”

Eastern Tales is a fantastic debut album for Babylon Tree, and consistently provides an intriguing mixture of Middle-Eastern themes and stoner rock. It’s easy to get lost in the rich layers and infectious groove patterns. The album is a solid debut release for Babylon Tree. Although there is no physical copy of the recording, you can buy the digital album on Bandcamp, and definitely keep an eye out for more great music from Babylon Tree.

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