Babelsberg is the title of Gruff Rhys’ fifth album. His version exists somewhere between the other two. Having glimpsed the name of the real place from the window of a moving tour van cruising across Europe endless, the idea of the place had been stuck in the back of Gruff’s head for years – a dormant thought waiting for the right time.
“I’d made a note of the name after driving past a sign when I was on tour in 2014,” says Gruff. “Cut to a few years later and the studio where I recorded the album was being knocked down just a week after I finished to make way for a ‘luxury’ apartment development. I was looking for a name that evoked the Tower of Babel – people building towers to reach an idea of heaven (but maybe creating a kind of hell – I’m an atheist by the way!) In any case I had written Babelsberg down and when I listened to the songs together, it finally made sense why I’d done that.”
Gruff’s Babelsberg is a ten-song gazetteer of our modern times. Each song is set to timeless, indelible melodies, and, amazingly for a record that lyrically pulls a very sharp focus on the times we’re living in, it was recorded in a feverish three-day session two and a bit years ago.