Banabila Splits

Banabila / Erker / Machinefabriek / Zenial
Banabila / Erker / Machinefabriek / Zenial

Here comes Dutch sound artist and composer Michel Banabila, makin’ up a mess of fun with some like minded collaborators on this fine LP from Tapu Records. This is Banabila’s show, in that he appears on all five tracks, but all participants receive equal billing, which is exactly as it should be.

The sleeve photo is an aerial perspective taken by fellow Dutch citizen Gerco de Ruijter, using a camera attached to a kite. It’s a beautiful image in its own right, and also provides a handy reviewer’s metaphor for the album as a whole – a free floating overview of Banabila’s musical endeavours in electronica, ambient, classical, jazz and soundtrack music.

Proceedings kick off with “Ill Rave”, a new collaboration with Machinefabriek. This isn’t quite the techno banger the title might lead you to expect. Instead, it’s a gentle but insistent pulse, punctuated by waves of static and washes of industrial sound, with something subliminal going on behind it all. This mood continues with “Crowds”, a Banabila solo piece built on a similar combination of elements, riding in over a backwash of human voices that remain tantalisingly out of reach. “Deep In The Forest” showcases a jazzier inclination, the electronics overlayed with vibes and the arboreal saxophone of Mete Erker.

Side two opens with the desolate ambient electronica of “Drops”, another Banabila solo effort produced especially for the occasion. “More Signals From Krakrot” brings things to a close with a cosmic crescendo, ambience giving way to techno beats and the human voices finally breaking through in bursts of delirium. This one comes from The Latest Research From The Dept of Electrical Engineering, made in partnership with Polish musician Zenial.

In some ways, this album is an odd beast, a curious hybrid of exclusive tracks and previously released material that’s neither new album nor full-on career retrospective. Nevertheless, as an introduction to the world of Banabila and his cohorts, you could do worse. Much to explore and enjoy, so no Sour Grapes here!