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Baba Dochia come as a welcome change of pace on Romania’s overpopulated alternative rock scene, trading in angsty generic whining for synths and very well defined, precise beats. Their guitars are not sentimentally strummed alternating between lyrical and heavy tributes to Placebo or Nirvana, their feelings are not deep and painful. But what they lack in introspection they make up in adrenaline.
Here and there, the bombastic electronics meant to fill arenas remind you of the latest Team Razor release you just got off The Pirate Bay, or awaken fond memories of the tracks accompanying the installer of your latest 2001 computer game (Max fucking! Payne) which you hoped your 128 mb RAM machine would endure (Pădurea Neagră). That might sound condescending due to the extreme kitsch which is key generator background music, but the sense of excitement a newly pirated video game, which you got from a friend with a faster internet connection is perfectly contained in Baba Dochia’s songs. Their classically stabbing synths may not sound surprising but they really get under your skin with the sharpest sawtooth waves which only need the simplest melodies in order to shine, and that is what they get. Short phrases are superimposed in extremely easy compositions, but as in any riff based music, the beauty is in sheer force rather than intricacy.
The songs really manage to HIT, they live up to their pretensions of force, but that is also where the album has it’s weak spots. Build-ups (as in the intro to Eudaimonia) are not particularly strong in Baba Dochia’s debut album, the timing of tension and partial release, pulling more tension and the actual climactic release, is unfortunately slightly off. Their heart is definitely in it, but a little less focus on trying to come up with new riffs to superimpose, and more choreographic refinement would go a long way. Nightride succeeds in its development, but sadly has the cheesiest trance lines since 1995.
Another thing which the album slowly builds towards is a vocal melody which only kicks in halfway through on Wind, where the band collaborates with Ioana Lefter, who delivers whispery melodies, at their best perfectly fitting the convulsive, yet more laid back beats than before, but at its worst sinks bellow all other melodies, and completely loses focus. her voice very fittingly counterpoints the peaks of the track, but also very unremarkably accompanies the plateaus. Theophilia, the next track distances itself from the agitation of the first half and tries on a more dreamy, ethereal feel, ditching the Quake III Arena vibe, and heading towards Lost Highway territory and shows itself as one of the best, if not the best, track of the album.
At times the sounds Baba Dochia use might seem dated, or in some way or another pretty commonplace, but they also manage to squeeze all there is to squeeze out of the pretty basic synth patches they use. Adventurous wouldn’t be the most appropriate word when describing their debut album, but immersive certainly is. Ambient music is a concept pretty far removed from what Baba Dochia do on XII Lambskins, but as in that area of music, this album needs a proper context in order to really shine, be it a properly lit, loud venue, or the comfort of your own desktop computer. So whether you like to play as Orb or as Sarge, let Baba Dochia pump up the adrenaline needed to endlessly frag.