Babel

Album: Heligoland (2010)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This drum 'n bass-style rave-up features the vocals of Martina Topley-Bird, who first came to prominence as the featured female vocalist on Bristol-based Trip-Hop pioneer Tricky's landmark debut album Maxinquaye. She continued her collaboration with the Bristolian as his muse-chanteuse and featured on his following three albums, her soft feminine vocals contrasting with Tricky's menacing mutterings. Following a falling-out of their professional and personal relationship in 1998, Topley-Bird began pursuing a solo career and in 2003 she released her Mercury Music Prize nominated, solo debut album Quixotic. The chanteuse also features on lead vocals on another Heligoland track, "Psyche."
  • Massive Attack founding member Robert "3D" Del Naja discussed Topley-Bird's contribution to this song with The Independent February 12, 2010: "Martina would describe 'Babel' as a teenage love song. When we were working on it she said, 'Oh, my lyrics have gone all teenage!' With all the people we've worked with successfully, the thing we've really admired is their ability to convey themselves through their voice when they sing and bring everything to it. It's not a singing lesson and they're haven't always had the most acrobatic of voices. It's what they're expressing that counts. Dave Sitek [from TV On The Radio] said, 'I always get people who can't sing to sing'. It's like... wow! That's how you get the natural, untrained thing that is really beautiful and it's what we're looking for."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Rupert Hine

Rupert HineSongwriter Interviews

Producer Rupert Hine talks about crafting hits for Tina Turner, Howard Jones and The Fixx.

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular Music

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular MusicSong Writing

Starting in Virginia City, Nevada and rippling out to the Haight-Ashbury, LSD reshaped popular music.

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)Songwriter Interviews

Mike Rutherford talks about the "Silent Running" storyline and "Land Of Confusion" in the age of Trump.

Jethro Tull

Jethro TullFact or Fiction

Stage urinals, flute devices, and the real Aqualung in this Fact or Fiction.

Vanessa Carlton

Vanessa CarltonSongwriter Interviews

The "A Thousand Miles" singer on what she thinks of her song being used in White Chicks and how she captured a song from a dream.

Bill Withers

Bill WithersSongwriter Interviews

Soul music legend Bill Withers on how life experience and the company you keep leads to classic songs like "Lean On Me."