Music / Premieres
Pascal Babare - Cave Without A Name
Words by James Lynch
Wednesday 15th September, 2021
Ahead of its official release this Friday, today we have the pleasure of sharing a first listen to Pascal Babare’s stunning fourth album Cave Without A Name - a collection of modest chamber-folk that catches the charming singer-songwriter crafting his most assured and imaginative music yet.
Twelve years on from the release of Pascal Babare’s debut album Thunderclap Spring, surprisingly not all that much has changed. Across the years, Pascal's music has unravelled around rambling indie-folk soundscapes, punctuated by his sandy vocals that more often than not feel like they’re sharing a secret with us, albeit from behind a beguiling smirk. However, as Pascal explains, “Cave Without A Name is the first record I’ve made with a conscious/cohesive approach in mind, wire-framing the songs with demos and midi instrumentation before “properly” recording everything for the final product”; and as a result, the record captures Pascal sounding his most self-assured yet. Right across the album, each moment feels carefully considered without feeling uncharacteristically premeditated, and similarly, every vivid instrumental layer feels thoughtfully placed and happy in its own lane, leaving plenty of room for Pascal’s songwriting to genuinely shine.

Opening track ‘Haunted House’ is quick to set this scene - after opening with a delicate acoustic guitar and Pascal’s soft vocals, the track expands with warm and unassuming woodwind harmonies over a buoyant baseline. Next along, ‘Fold’ blossoms open with flourishes of fingerpicked arpeggios as the chamber-pop layers swell in support, and ‘The Callcentre’ finds Pascal’s wry vocals tangling with woozy organ, vibrant strings and playful flute over a creative backbeat that embeds the track with an undeniable groove. With their humble instrumentation, it’s tempting to refer to these soundscapes as minimalist or stripped-back, but in reality, the tracks are cleverly constructed and swarming with colour - it’s just that none of the layers need to overexert themselves to make these songs feel as majestic as they do.

As Cave Without A Name journeys on, the listen remains as spirited and compelling. ‘Time, Oh Time’ is instantly charming with its leisurely lilt, ‘Duet’ feels similarly radiant with its gentle harmonies and ephemeral chords, and closing track ’My Heart’ rounds the album out intimately with just voice and guitar, yet beams with dewy-eyed charisma. However, beneath the calming atmosphere and serene arrangements, Pascal explains that “one of the main lyrical themes on this record (as it has been on all my records) is confronting my own mortality - more specifically, trying to find ways to explore death in a way that doesn’t feel overtly dark or sombre.”

With this in mind, the tracks can be transformed a little; the flowing instrumentals a little more restless, the cryptic lyrics a little less fanciful and Pascal’s forthright sincerity perhaps a little more sombre. However, it’s this immediacy that makes Cave Without A Name so immersive, especially since there’s so little that can divert our attention from Pascal’s songcraft and the potent emotional weight of these tracks. Or as Pascal suggests, in his typically imaginative way; “with the album being so personal I wanted to capture an intimate and dry sound across the twelve tracks - like I’m sitting in front of the listener in their lounge room while, behind me, the other musicians sit on their side tables, kogan TVs, indoor rowing machine etc.”

Cave Without A Name is out officially this Friday through Oscarson - head to to pre-order the record on limited vinyl.