- The title of If You're Into It, I'm Out Of It posits Christoph De Babalon as a hater of hype. Wherever people congregate around fashions and fads, you imagine him aloof and disdainful, shaking his head at the morons. While you might think it "individualistic and narcissistic," his solipsism is key to his unique sound. When it was released in 1997, the record's junkyard drum & bass and bomb shelter ambient made it marginal by nature, even within the liberal confines of Alec Empire's Digital Hardcore Recordings. Within a few years he'd end up disturbing thousands of people at a time while opening for Radiohead. In true DIY form, he ended up losing money in the process.
On the cover, De Babalon is stood smoking next to a poster that reads "If you're gonna go out… go out like a muthafucker." It's tempting to imagine his music as a sort of glorious stunt, like Evel Knievel jumping a bike through a ring of fire. The breaks on tracks like "Nostep" sound as if they're blasting through an endless succession of brick walls. Their sonic quality is hopelessly decayed yet psychotically energetic, like a plague of marauding zombies.
Heard in the context of today's anal-retentive production values, the reissued LP's rancid sound is exceptionally evocative. "My Confession"'s drones conjure images of an abandoned cargo ship drifting slowly through foggy seas. The effects stalking the background of "Water" approximate a pod of whales singing from the bottom of the ocean. As ever, the Amens and Apaches are bit-crushed into spinning prisms, interlocking like compacted cars in a scrapyard.
If You're Into It, I'm Out Of It wouldn't be a classic if the mayhem wasn't balanced with stark beauty. "Opium" sets you floating in narcotic fluid as vague, half-formed hallucinations drift by. There's a distant sense of threat but it's blunted into a comfortably numb sense of well-being. It's 15 minutes long but could just as well be 30 or 60. Its companion piece, "High Life (Theme)," shows you the other side of the coin, leaving you alone and shivering after the comedown. The world it builds feels remote, threatening and unstable, but for all its malignance there's an awe-inspiring grace to it.
With this 2018 reissue, De Babalon has the zeitgeist by the throat. DJs and label owners who knew little of his existence before Nina and Good News released his outstanding Grim Zenith EP last year are now praising and playing him every chance they get. There have never been more people who want to be Into It, but De Babalon has the integrity to stay "as far away from the music scene as I possibly can." If You're Into It, I'm Out Of It's staying power is a product of this puritan outlook. It's a lonely place to be, but that's often the price of timeless art.
04. What You Call A Life
07. Dead (Too)
08. Damaged III
10. High Life (Theme)
11. My Confession