Sunday, 4 September 2016

Banco De Gaia '9th of Hearts' Review

Artist: Banco De Gaia

Title: 9th of Hearts

Label: Disco Gecko

Released: 7th October

This release is Toby Marks A.K.A. Banco De Gaia's ninth studio album and features special guest artists, from Pink Floyd’s Dick Parry, Zero 7’s Sophie Barker, The The’s James Eller and No-Man’s Tim Bowness. The 9th of Nine Hearts is a celebration of the spark in all of us: the concept of love itself. Fusing ambient, psychedelia, art rock and acid house, each track evolves naturally into the next, with love the starting point to them all.

The album starts with 'Nine Hearts' which begins rather quietly with ambient strings and shuffling fx into somewhat of a crescendo before a gentle piano is introduced and is soon followed by the vocals of Tim Bowness which adds a slight rock opera feel to the piece and is inspired by the love in friendship. This is followed by the recent free download 'Burn The Witch' which fuses rock drumming with ambient dub and documentary spoken word.

'Warp and Weft' is a Floyd'esque slice of ambient electronica which features an ethereal vocal that adds to the calm beauty of the piece. This is followed by 'Le Foucauld' where tribal drums lead you to into an eastern bazaar and has somewhat of a celtic folk vibe to the mix to get your feet a tapping. The world fusion continues with 'No Hablo Italiano' a fusion of tribal drumming, sweet guitar licks, synths and vocal snippets which presents an overall Mediterranean feel.

The next track 'Is-Is Loves Ankh-An-Atum' sounds somewhat like footsteps through a misty port despite the obvious reference to the Egyptian deities. However, the reference soon becomes apparent with the Arabic vocals and flutes that transcends through the piece and leads us onto to more Floyd'esque sounding synths. Following on with 'And So We Dream Of Futures Lost' which begins with spoken word that leads into a deep orchestral piece of ambience with gentle piano, indistinct voices and other field recordings from nature before angelic voices are employed to complete the piece.

The album then takes a shift in direction with '91' where applause leads us into a retro sounding piece of acid house which lifts samples from early Banco cassette releases and features vocals co-written and performed by Sophie Barker. The mood then swings back to ambience with 'The Princess And The Sky Goat' which utilises birdsong amongst an eerie drone before the plodding kick drum, melodic tones (with a retro ambient dub feel reminiscent of the Orb's 'Blue Room') and Dick Parry's sax is introduced.

Following on with 'Midnight Sun' another ambient piece with ethereal vocals that brings you nicely to the closing track 'This Heart' where the piano takes centre stage over lapping waves, seagulls and indistinct chatter.

To summarise this album should appeal to fans of Toby's work in some respects it's focus is more on the ambient than the global and is very introspective. However, the quality remains and going on the live band performance at Whirl-Y-Fayre is still warmly welcomed after all these years.

Reviewed by Woodzee

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