Babe, Terror Explores a Bus Graveyard and a Bass Fabrication in “Alcalis”

September 15 saw the release of Horizogon, the 11th album by Babe, Terror–the project of São Paulo, Brazil composer and producer Claudio Szynkier. But the symphonic lo-fi record is also accompanied by a series of videos that make up a full-length film, and today, Szynkier is releasing the companion piece for the album’s second track, “Alcalis.” For him, it’s a standout segment in the scope of the project.

“It’s one of the songs that really made me happier on this entire process. It has one of the best piano and bass fabrications on the record, with syncopated and nostalgic energy, and those are the important instruments in Horizogon.”

Its cloudy, far-off voices and twilit piano passages are beautifully surreal, ebbing and flowing like deep, deliberate breaths. Around seven minutes in, the character of the piece changes–in Szynkier’s own words: “When the bass comes, it is like a picture forming and revealing its nature.”

For a more direct revelation of that nature, consider the video for “Alcalis.” Like the album’s other visuals, it was filmed in the streets of São Paulo in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, directed and produced by Szynkier and edited by Cauê Dias Baptista.

“The video captures [the song’s] soft melancholy, with a bus graveyard in the middle of a very abandoned place in the city, a commercial, decadent maze with African and Haitian immigrants battling for their lives, and young homeless people in a neighbourhood which, in the past, was an upscale and expensive region.”

Szynkier explores that region at a fraught time in Brazilian politics, something he says fueled the making of the record. It was produced in 2019–before the emergence of COVID-19, but in the midst of other existential struggles.

“This was already an apocalyptic moment in Brazil,” he says in press for Horizogon. “The moment of uncovered authoritarianism, unveiled and official far right, to the point where you walk on a street, go to the supermarket, and people really feel free to attack whomever they consider ‘bearded vagabonds’ and ‘communists.’”

For speaking out against that moment, Szynkier says he’s paid a heavy price, losing jobs and consequently, financial support. The Horizogon videos were funded through a “crowdfunding against authoritarianism” campaign. But, says Szynkier: “It made the record more alive.” You can see and hear that for yourself in “Alcalis.”

“The video is São Paulo and Brazil speaking really loud, so the music is too.”

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