Paisley Babylon has been described in many, many ways. Dark ambient/goth/industrial is one of them. “A mix of Golem and Ennio Morricone” is another. I’m pretty sure that’s the German prog band Golem and not the deathmetal one.
One reviewer called Paisley Babylon, “ambient, trippy sample-laden psychedelia. If Funki Porcini is like ‘shrooming, then Paisley Babylon is like spending several hours in a flotation tank after ingesting a couple of hash brownies.”
Yet another said, “Warped, trance-inducing sounds…”
There’s a common thread running through a good deal of the comments about Paisley Babylon music. When not being compared to soundtracks by John Carpenter or even Goblin (a bit of a stretch, that one) there’s quite a lot of references to altered mental states, hallucinations, dreams and nightmares, highs of various kinds.
Paisley Babylon has always been about altered mental states. There are two or three really influential ones. A great deal of the first Paisley Babylon CD was written during sleep deprivation, and bouts of insomnia. Strange that those two would work together on the first record–you’d think that it would be one or the other somehow. If memory serves, it started out as intentional sleep deprivation and wound up turning into insomnia. Yikes.
But those strange mental places you go into when you haven’t slept properly, those odd thoughts and warped perceptions of things are what this music is all about.
To paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, I would never condone using alcohol or other substances combined with extreme lack of sleep and a near obsessive/compulsive need to keep recording, playing back, and embarking on the mental flights/fugues/waking dream states this music tends to bring on…but it’s always worked for me.
I guess I am my own audience for this material. Anything that causes your perceptions to become strange, twisted, unfathomable or otherwise altered is a friend to me. Paisley Babylon could be called mushroom music, but I’d hate to be associated with psychedelics alone–ANY altered state of mind from fever dreams to near-death experiences IS Paisley Babylon, to me. The music you hear–or wish you COULD hear. What you might experience on the operating table or after a long night of tequila slammers and talk of Carlos Castaneda.
What Paisley Babylon is…is that feeling you get falling asleep at a film festival during one movie, waking up in the middle of another one, and that wonderful disorientation you have before becoming fully awake. Where you don’t know what’s real and what isn’t, what was just part of the half-dream you just had and what’s in the film itself–or even understanding which film was which.
Jet lag, drunken headphone magic, the 420 thrill of discovering new sounds in recordings you’ve heard for years, the previously mentioned sleep deprivation, the effects of fever and cough medicine, nodding and waking during all-night movie marathons, the feeling you get waking up during a sleep walking jag, highway hypnosis…all of these states and more inspire, help create and motivate Paisley Babylon music.
A really excellent example is the Paisley Babylon track titled, Ever Hear Me Screaming? This is posted in its entirety at Bandcamp and can be heard for free–all nine minutes and 59 seconds of it.
I use a variety of gear to get to these sounds, including analog synths like the Juno 106, Juno 1, Theremin, Yamaha CS-1X, MicroKorg, tape loops, turntables, found sounds, invented sounds, feedback loops and much more. In the past I’ve also taken samples of pop music, manipulated them into harsh, unrecognizable noise and played them as percussion sounds. I’ve even taken audio from old home video recordings to abuse, mangle, and turn into subliminal messages.
If you are a fellow sleep-deprived, altered state, chemically altered traveler, you’ve got a simpatico mind in Paisley Babylon.