Affectionately referred to as the ‘Baby Wildhearts’ back in the day, Scottish rockers Baby Chaos disappeared off the radar after 2 critically acclaimed albums and high profile tours with the likes of The Wildhearts and Terrorvision. Even re-inventing themselves before the turn of the century with a different line up as Deckard was a short-lived move, and we assumed Chris Gordon and his cohorts were assigned to rock ‘n’ roll history with all the other coulda-shoulda-woulda beens.
Luckily, a certain Ginger Wildheart persuaded then to reform for a few support gigs, which led to inspiration, new musical ideas and a re-emergence for one of Brit Rocks brightest hopes. In 2015 the band finally released their third album, the ambitiously titled ‘Skulls, Skulls, Skulls, Show Me The Glory’, which was as spectacular as the title suggests.
4 years have passed and they are back with ‘Ape Confronts Cosmos’. A new challenge for the band, now bolstered to a 5 piece with the addition of a third guitar player in Alan Easton. The slate has been wiped clean and Chris Gordon has written an album full of completely new and fresh musical ideas.
Once you get past the fact that ‘Ape Confronts Cosmos’ has possibly the worst cover art of the year, if not the millennium, once you pull out that beautiful slab of red vinyl, place it on the turntable and let the needle drop…that’s when the magic takes you. You see Baby Chaos are one of those bands that have the ability to take you on a journey. They are an album band, and by that I mean this album needs to be listened to as one piece of music to get the full, desired experience.
Words such as ‘epic’ and ‘grandiose’ are thrown about nonchalantly in reviews, but when it comes to Baby Chaos, they truly are justified. There are gargantuan walls off riffage, cascading harmonies and melodies to die for at every turn and in every song. Muse comparisons are rife, especially in the likes of ‘You Won, You Won’ and ‘Run Towards The Roar’, but don’t be scared! Yeah, Chris Gordon’s vocal style is not dissimilar to Matt Bellamy, but the triple guitar attack and clever song dynamics easily outsmart the Teignmouth trio in my opinion.
With a stabbing rhythm and an almost PIL style vocal delivery, ‘Out Of The Blue’ opens the album with a post punk influenced statement of intent. It leads into a euphoric, other-worldly chorus, then out again quick as a flash. The top notch production job courtesy of main man Chris Gordon just helps to accentuate the 3 way jagged guitar interplay, and it sounds quite frankly …massive!
Regimental riffage a-la The Wildhearts, layered Queen-like harmonies and urgent, precision drumming make the likes of ‘Mouse. Lion. Mouse.’, and the aforementioned ‘You Won, You Won’ and ‘Run Towards The Roar’ utterly essential listening in 2020 and we have only digested side one!
The picked acoustics of ‘I Belong In Battle’ give a respite from the hard rock assault, but its short lived. You see, Baby Chaos have a penchant for delivering a relentless refrain of guitars that just keeps on coming and they create soundscapes that put them right up with the best in their genre.
Side 2 opener ‘Orphans On The Moon’ has a grandiose, alt rock feel. Like The Smashing Pumpkins meets Thirty Seconds To Mars, it eyes up the stadiums of the world for recognition. They even come across like Sparks on ‘A Quiet Jubilation’ with one finger keyboard notes, as an underlying vocal melody weaves beneath the main operatic gang vocal. That then segues into the massive sounding ‘Everything I Counted On Has Been Proved Wrong’. A killer, power pop hook that’s up there with the likes of Silver Sun and guitars that crunch as heavy as Metallica, what more could any discerning rocker desire?
It’s not all an assault on the senses though; Chris Gordon is a diverse and creative songwriter. Just lay back, close your eyes and drift away to the dreamy, acoustic lullaby ‘The White Witch’. A tripped out ride to take the listener to another plane in these troubled times.
Elsewhere, the closing ‘Cut Through The Ocean’ sounds live in the studio and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a one take recording, just the main man and a lone acoustic guitar laid bare, heart on sleeve for the world to see. It comes across like a reprise, the singing delivered in almost a whisper, with just haunting backing harmonies to accompany the frontman.
Baby Chaos return with an album that continues where ‘Skulls Skullls Skulls, Show Me The Glory’ left off. Chris Gordon’s trademark anthemic, guitar-driven noise has a tendency to go off on a tangent to itself and that is what keeps it interesting and sets Baby Chaos apart from the majority of their contemporaries. A wild and expansive sound is created by a band led by a songwriter up there with the best of his generation. Baby Chaos are my Radiohead and my Pink Floyd all rolled up into one gloriously heavy package.
The fact that ‘Ape Versus Cosmos’ will go largely unnoticed by the mass music buying public is a crying shame. I urge you to not let this happen to you. An early contender for album of the year makes ‘Ape Confronts Chaos’ an essential purchase.
Buy ‘Ape Confronts Cosmos’ Here
Author: Ben Hughes