Friday 19 May 2017

New reviews for Sound Years [12" transparent vinyl LP]

Mixed by Michel Banabila.

Side A
(this side has the tracks jointed, making it one uninterrupted mix):

A1. Close To The Moon (previously unreleased / 2016)
A2. Earth Visitor (from Earth Visitor / 2016)
A3. E.T. (from Traces / 2007)
A4. Gorlice (from Live in Gorlice / 2014)
A5. 47 Voice Loops (from 47 Voice Loops / 2013)

Side B
(this side has the tracks jointed, making it one uninterrupted mix):

B1. Stone Bridge (from Hilarious Expedition / 2005)
B2. Niki Jumpei (from Gardening / 2012)
B3. TAPE (mix 3) (from Bouwwerk / 2010)
B4. Shortwave (from Hilarious Expedition / 2005)
B5. Radio Spelonk (from Music for viola and electronics II / 2015) with Oene van Geel
B6. Vuka Vuka! intro (from Songs from Vuka Vuka! / 2005)
B7. The Turtle Came Back (from Gardening / 2012)
B8. Yarra (from Travelog / 2013) with Machinefabriek

“Sound Years” is a Michel Banabila sampler, segueing selected tracks from ten previous albums along with one new work into two gentle, chilled-out continuous pieces. This has the diversity and variation of a various artists chillout compilation, but impressively, it’s all the work of one man (and a couple of guest appearances). Smoothness is the order of the day here. Gentle piano melodies, occasional plaintive guitar strums, and found sounds including the classics such as falling rain ambiences and tropical birds, blend with the mellowest flavours of electronica chill-out such as the deftly twisted and re-pitched vocal samples in “Earth Visitor”. Other sections are more pared-down, simple warm drones, deep vocal sustains and cultured resonance. The second side opens with a slightly more cinematic bent- a real orchestra warming up alongside a virtual one, broad sci-fi choral pads and robotic noises have us floating outside a spaceship. The ambience gradually gets more down-to-earth, with plaintive violin lines (from guest Oene Van Geel I think) and micro-cut vocal snippets glitching away in “Radio Spelonk”. While some of the elements are cliché, they are used tastefully in a way that freshens them up. Even the cockerel crowing sound, used to great effect by The Orb, makes an appearance. In fact The Orb is a comparison worth making; if you like either of The Orb’s most recent two albums, then you should absolutely check “Sound Years” out. To someone unfamiliar with Banabila’s work, this is a seriously impressive and accomplished retrospective. A wide orchestral palette and some absolutely top-notch production, with a beautiful sense of space and an ability to shift subtly between warm and cold atmospheres, makes this an aural joy in its own right. The transitions are seamless and this absolutely stands up as its own work, without any of the unsatisfying incompleteness you sometimes get in compilations. It’s released on Banabila’s own Tapu Records. Several of the original albums from which these tracks are sourced are legitimately available to download for free online, and this compilation will definitely make you want to peruse things further. (Stuart Bruce)

NORMAN RECORDS staff review:
These are troubling times, or maybe it’s just because it’s the middle of the week, but fret not for Michel Banabila is here to bring the balm. This lovely guy has a background in producing scores for film, documentaries, theatre and video art. Banabila finds uses for discarded objects and makes tapestries with these along with his electronics, field recordings and shortwave radio bites. The results are greater than the sum of these parts though, of course. The sounds he makes are spectacularly gorgeous and immaculately crafted, so let’s get into it now... The record opens with the wondrously twilit ‘Close To The Moon’, acoustic oriental instrumentation gently plucked from some mystical faraway place and picking its way through some serene Fripp / Eno type sound bedding. Hints of guitar bubble up amongst the most luscious synth pads and subtle recordings of birdsong, low in the mix. This all segues seamlessly into some Frahm-ish piano and found sounds, Bjorkian vocals flitting in and out. The piano weaves a lovely melody gently around eastern instrumentation, gradually speeding up together with backwards vocals to create a slightly disorienting effect, before warm droning ambience washes back in. It’s as good as having the most relaxing bubble bath. Exotic birdcalls drift back in, soft lulling vocals and heavenly harp all combine to seduce this tired writer. Delicious. Is it time for bed yet? **** (Jamie)

アンビエントという視点からオランダの音楽を探していた時に知った、世代もバックグラウンドも異なる2人の作曲家が、ジャーマン・エレクトロニクス周辺の復刻を手掛けるbureau Bのカタログに加わったことが、とても印象深いことでした。ひとりは、1925年ハールレム出身、著名なクラシック音楽一家に育ち、96年デン・ハーグで死去したJurriaan Andriessen(ユリアーン・アンドリーセン)。もうひとりは、1961年アムステルダムでオランダ人の母とイエメン出身の父との間に生まれた、現在ロッテルダムを拠点に活動するMichel Banabila(ミシェル・バナビラ)。ユトレヒト音楽院で父に作曲を学び、メシアンに師事したアンドリーセンは、元々アカデミックな現代音楽の世界で活躍していましたが、50歳代にさしかかった70年後半にPhilip GlassやWendy Carlosの影響から、自ら「トランス・シンフォニー」と呼ぶミニマルなシンセサイザー・ワークに開眼。先のbureau Bに取り上げられた「The Awakening Dream」は、Clusterや初期Kraftwerkにも通じるアナログでトリッピーなコズミック・サウンドを作り上げたシンセ期の代表作。プレアンビエントなアンドリーセンに対して、かたや次世代のバナビラはEno & ByrneやJon Hassellといったオリジネーターに直接的な影響を受けた、ポストパンク以降のオランダにおけるアンビエント・ミュージックの先覚者と見ることができます。 バナビラが同郷の映像作家Hero Wouters(ヘロ・ヴォウタス)のスタジオでアルバム制作に取り組みはじめたのが、彼が19才であった80年前後のこと。インドネシア、ガーナ、レバノンといった国々の民族音楽と、ジャズやミニマル・ミュージックといった要素をポストパンクの越境的感覚で再構築した「マリリ」、連作「発見された痕跡」などのソロ作を発表。Hanyo van Oosterom(ハンヨ・ファン・オーステロム)率いる第四世界音楽グループChiでの活動を経て、80年代末から90年代にかけては、トルコ、スリナム、ベルギーなどの多国籍フォーク・グループEast Meets Westや、トルコ出身のマルチ奏者Yaşar Saka(ヤシャール・シャカ)とのデュオなど、イエメン人の血を継ぐ自身の音楽的ルーツを探す旅のように、民族音楽志向をさらに広げた精力的なライブ活動を繰り広げ、ワールド・ミュージックの潮流の中で大きな評価を獲得していきました。その後トリップホップ〜クラブジャズから、グリッチ〜デジタル・ミニマリズム、実験的なエレクトロアコースティック、サティを思わせるピアニズムや室内楽に及ぶ多様なアプローチで、舞台芸術、ドキュメンタリー、映画、ビデオアートのための音楽を制作。初期のイマジナリーな民族性やミニマリズム的手法は、時代ごとに様相を変えながら、現在まで途絶えることなくバナビラの音楽の基幹になっていると思います。 この「Sound Years」は、過去12年の間に制作した既発アルバムから選ばれた13の楽曲からなるコンピレーション・アルバム。00年代以降の主要作を俯瞰しつつ、しかし単なるサンプラーではなく、遠く離れた広大無辺な宇宙空間と顕微鏡内のミクロな世界との間を漂泊するバナビラ特有の離郷的詩情を各作品から拾い集めるように、セルフミックスによって新しい物語へと昇華した、近年の最高作と呼ぶにふさわしい内容。昨年リリースされた初期編集盤「Early Works」と対比をなし、近年に初期作を発見した新しい層のリスナーにとっては数多くのバナビラ作品を辿るためのひとつの切り口となる(おそらく新作では最後の)ヴァイナル・フォーマットでリリースされたことにも少なからぬ意義を感じます。(Tomoyuki Fujii)

Sound Years is a compilation of previously released tracks (with the exception of the previously unreleased opening track Close To The Moon). All are hand-picked by Michel Banabila himself and mixed into two continuous tracks – one for each side of the vinyl album. The selection is taken from various projects: some of them from theatre works, some of the more recent experimental electronic music, an occasional live recording, and a selection of his collaboration works with Oene van Geel and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek). The oldest tracks are taken from 2005’s Hilarious Expedition, the newest are from 2016. They are selected to create a continuous uninterrupted flow. The sound is immediately recognisable as Banabila‘s – especially in his trademark use of ‘alien vocal’ samples (like in E.T. and Vuka Vuka!). The set is a perfect demonstration of Banabila‘s mastership of creating moods and atmospheres. A soft, warm, comfortable selection that is slightly unnerving and ‘outerworldish’ at the same time. Sound Years can perhaps be seen as Banabila‘s companion to KLF’s ‘Chill Out’ album: a slow walk through quiet (yet alien) landscapes. Unknown, full of surprises, yet always vaguely familiar. (Peter van Cooten)

Sound Years is a mix curated by Dutch musician Michel Banabila from recordings created variously for stage productions, documentaries, soundtracks and other releases from the previous 11 years. As you can see, it was released in a quiver inducing vinylophiles pleasure-dream - a clear platter of sound exploration. The Bandcamp link above takes you to an edit of the release. I enjoy Michel's music for it's imaginative panoramas which are enhanced by his engagement with avant and sound art methodology. Michel is a master of experimental ambient and this is where he excels. Exterior environments/field recordings are integral to many of his works. Musique concréte too. This exploratory aspect of his work is tempered by his inclusion of jazz, blues, African, Indian/Asian, classical/opera and other popular forms. Through these methodologies, he creates intriguing musical hybrids that, I feel, expand the musical traditions he utilises into original and unique soundworlds. I feel he is at the forefront of unalienating avant and creating more accessible approaches, that welcome the unfamiliar listener, rather than estrange them. The A-side opens with a previously unreleased track Close To the Moon. It's the kind of track that makes Michel's music so likeable, sounds are often tweaked through processing, creating aural hallucinates of the original sound. Oblique familiarity creating intrigue. An arcane vocal burbles. Tricked strike sound akin to a tabla floop. Acoustic guitar motif intone, slowly, calmly at the deeper end of the scale. Organ like keys cycle. Frog click. Ebow glissandi ring. I'm hearing things in a different light - odd combinations of sound source that here, are entirely plausible. A poignant piano motif enters and leaves. The vocal samples return more assertively. Harmonium like drone billows. And a silence. Another movement unfolds. More silences amidst forest sound flowering the mix. Nursery song and noise. For a moment, I glimpse a meeting between the Müm and Eno's Apollo. It closes where a recurring theme throughout this first side has ebbed and flowed - the human voice. In particular it features a sample from Michels 47 Voice Loops release, created for an installation that melded subtlety with complexity. The B-Side is a kind of aural film. Further out sound-art explorations and compositional technique are to the fore here and in places I'm reminded of Daedelus and DJ Spooky - it has a more cut-up/mixologist feel. Four of the songs featured are lifted from the Hilarious Exhibition and Gardening albums, both which really mirror the musical approach on this side. Frequent collaborators musician/sound-artist Machinefabriek and violinist/improvisor/composer Oene van Geel both share moments on this side too. Their inclusion reinforces the avant and "orchestral" feels present here. In the closing moments of the B-side there is a return to similar musical themes from the A-side through Yarra, from the memorable 2013 release, Travelog. It features a lovely Bayaka like cooing warble. It closes on a poignant piano melody.
In all, Sound Years is a great way to traverse a decade or so of Michel's ouevre.
nb. In 2010, Michel treated us to another career spanning sampler of his music, Streets, Dreams and Memories, collated/mixed by ambientblog's Peter van Cooten. It's available as a download now and is another great overview of Michel's panoramic music, particularly his fourth world recordings. (Perry Holt)

Michel Banabila is primarily known for film scores, theatre and video art scores. With that kind of experience you can really expect a chamelon sort of genre and that's is almost to be the truth. But as an experienced musician and a visionary he knows his way around and helps himself with vast array of means to accomplish his goals. Music presented on "Sound Years" beautifully released vinyl has a base of ethereal ambient guitar work which you might associate with Eno/Fripp archetype. But this is just a base to tiny little delights that this album has e.g. oriental acoustic instrumentation in the first track, rich and lush synth textures, drone ambience, piano work, a bit whimsical, gentle vocals. What is most striking is whatever Michel is playing - he can embellish it as a master - you can see his craft in each little corner. Delights... (Hubert Heathertoes)

Non solo condensare in quaranta minuti oltre un decennio di esperienze musicali personali, collaborative e combinate con altri linguaggi, ma farlo dandovi una forma nuova, come in un timelapse nel quale suoni e immagini smarriscono i propri contorni, assumendo significati inediti. È l’operazione posta in essere da Michel Banabila in “Sound Years”: per realizzare le due facciate in vinile del lavoro, l’artista olandese non ha fatto altro che riassemblare in sequenza ininterrotta una serie di frammenti tratti da una varietà di lavori passati, comprese pièce destinate alla danza o a installazioni audio-visuali. Dal venir meno delle cesure tra le varie parti, è scaturito un iter narrativo radicalmente nuovo, nel quale field recordings, parti suonate ed effetti sintetici scolorano gli uni negli altri assumendo una coerenza intrinseca imprevedibile. Ai due lunghi brani – sedici e diciannove minuti – è associato un più breve inedito risalente allo scorso anno, “Close To The Moon”, costituito da minute emissioni elettroniche sospese su un pulviscolo sonoro, appunto, lunare. A margine di tale brano, comunque, l’essenza di “Sound Years” può davvero riassumersi nell’applicazione sperimentale alla musica del principio per cui nulla si crea e nulla si distrugge, ma tutto si trasforma. (Raffaello Russo)

Sono più di trent’anni che Michel Banabil registra album di sonorizzazioni per cinema, televisione e teatro ai confni della new age. Con A Sound Years il musicista Olandese ha creato due mix - uno per lato dell’ LP - unendo tracce di suoi vecchi lavori e alcuni inediti. L’atmosfera è pacata e lievemente melanconica: le melodie suonate al pianoforte e su vecchi sintetizzatori si increspano sotto strati di micro-elettronica. Machinefabriek collabora nella conclusiva Yarra (dall’album Travelog del 2013), chiudendo nel migliore dei modi un disco che cresce ascolto dopo ascolto. Vinile trasparente pesante (175 grammi) già esaurito sul Bandcamp dell’artista. SOFFUSO. (Roberto Mandolini)

Michel Banabila har ett förflutet i Chi och har även släppt en mängd musik under eget namn och tillsammans med andra. Sound Years består av två spår på nitton respektive sexton minuter, de innehåller flera låtar av musik från dokumentärfilmer, dansföreställningar, konstinstallationer, videoverk och annat. Allt som allt från tio olika skivor, det är dock sammanhållet och faktiskt till och med väldigt bra.

Sound Years (Tapu), die Klang-Collagen des Holländischen Soundtrack-Spezialisten Michel Banabila sind deutlich optimistischer, aber noch kleinteiliger, innenräumlicher und spezifischer. Sein Haushalt ist der eines Hoarders: Found Footage, Flohmarktplatten, Field Recordings, Gesprächsfetzen und Instrumente wie Banabilas eigenwillig gespielte gestopfte Trompete definieren Ambient als Musique Concrète aus Big Data. (Frank P. Eckert)

Michel Banabila es un artista sonoro, compositor y productor que reside en los Países Bajos, quien desde 1983 viene editando su música y producido la música incidental de numerosos filmes, documentales, obras de teatro y coreografías.
Banabila trabaja con objetos encontrados que son procesados electrónicamente además de grabaciones de campo y fragmentos diversos ruidos.
“Sound Years” incluye temas seleccionados de diez álbumes anteriores junto a dos nuevos temas. Tanto el lado A como el B de este vinilo los temas están unidos generando una mezcla ininterrumpida.
“Close To The Moon” – del lado A - da comienzo con suaves acordes de guitarra al estilo oriental junto a sampleos de vocales hábilmente retorcidas y retocadas que me recuerdan el trabajo de Woob, aka Paul Frankland editado a mediados de los ’90 en el mítico sello inglés em:t. Luego suaves melodías de piano le ponen un toque de elegancia creando una atmósfera de ensueño.
El lado B tiene un carácter de paisaje sonoro que comprende grabaciones a voces, objetos, punteos a la guitarra, solo de violín y ondas corta de radio, creando bellos colchones de ambient acompañado del canto de pájaros. (Guillermo Escudero)

I came across the sound world of Michel Banabila about three years ago through the work of Machinefabriek, the moniker of soundsmith and graphic designer Rutger Zuyderveldt. Both artists are based in Rotterdam. Their series of collaborations are excellent. Rutger also did the layout work on the clear vinyl version of this release – Sound Years – and I would definitely recommend obtaining the reasonably priced physical version. Zuyderveldt also contributes to the closing piece on the record and whilst there’s also a track with composer Oene van Geel on side B, this is Banabila’s solo practice.
It’s always nice to review vinyl, for the usual reasons; the sense of occasion, to get the actual artwork, which is stunning on this record – an aerial shot of who-knows where, with a male shadow that reminds me of LFO’s Frequencies, from visual artist Gerco de Ruijter. But there’s also the fact that on my turntable, vinyl can’t be ignored or left alone. If I want to preserve the needle and record I have to be watching the progress across the platter. Outside of the packaging, I think the most impressive thing about this release is that it is a compilation of works – but it plays like two very connected suites of music. The source material appears to be from audio visual commissions and the like from 2005 to 2015 – I deliberately didn’t look at the tracklisting first and I wrote what follows in one sitting. I wrote it without much editing and it’s a first thought, best thought kind of approach!
Side A

1. Electronic drips trickle over a Japanese lament with ornamented clicks and flutters that never take over from the contemplative loop. We unfold into an expansive suite of cinematica with a very subtle, slightly Spanish click-ery field recording. The drips continue – and merge into the start of a lovely piano piece cloaked in what could now be an actual rain field recording. Or static. A cat mews quietly in the background. The lamenting voice returns, but it is now beautifully distressed and dances with the other elements for an extended moment in an impressive display of digital processing that is as alive and seductive. All the time there’s a great musicianship to this mixing of elements that allows the end result to sit very comfortably on the soundtrack of a film like Arrival, and the quality is as high as a Johan Johannsson work.
2. Next, a Rhodes-like bassline is the clothesline that bubbling vocals are mutated and hung over, but as twisted as they are, there is very clear intention behind the warping of them – a kind of polyglot investigation. There’s almost a song-like craft here, instead of the ‘academic’ tag we often see lazily attributed to electroacoustic music. Here, it’s a warm work, sensitive and conceptual at the same time, an unusual and accomplished mix. If the previous track was Arrival, this would work with a Studio Ghibli storyline about a swamp in rural Japan. 3. What we used to call the ‘Far East’ is a reasonable description of where we visit. Perhaps the ‘Far-out’ East! Now we are unsure of location. But I’m reminded of a Leaf Label record I used to own. I’m thinking Asa-Chang and Junray – there’s a kind speaking of tongues here, and that seems to be the unifying theme of this side, and it floats in and out of animated, sensitively-drawn landscapes. It feels like early afternoon, I expect to see a large dragonfly and then we go below the waterline to another place, – the drone is forefront here. I didn’t see it coming, so subtle was the development over the last few minutes.
4. And as we build into a slow choir of vocals before side one draws to an end, I could have this last track never finish. If it’s an edit, I’m ready for more. What will Side B hold for us?
Side B

1. I feel like we’ve been placed in the centre of an orchestra pit. Instruments are being tuned up. There’s a Cockerel sample that is very like the Orb’s launch into Little Fluffy Clouds, but these clouds are full of static and distant church gongs. It’s like a séance in an old sound archive, tuning in to hear E.V.P. voices, – and perhaps this artist would make an excellent artist in residence at the SETI institute. 2. A very different journey from Side A, but that’s what side B-s are for. Some lost Estonian orchestra and the sounds of reel to reel machines fight it out. It’s like the memories of an old tape recorder that is being demagnetised – a real play on the signal-to-noise ratio here – you get the sense that that there’s a real investigation between the detritus of archives and the desire to make order.
3. It’s a kind of reportage, or survey going on here – and whilst not as warm as Side A’s more cinematic emotional syringe, here it’s just as atmospheric but with a more suspicious plot. What’s impressive is that Banabila is very restrained and eclectic in the composition – elements don’t out-stay their welcome and whilst there’s some brutal cut ups of voices – they are heard so briefly that they punctuate the piece perfectly. An incredible amount of source material and editing here.
4. The spectral voice on side A is back again! I love this treatment here, it’s floating in some dark space – it would sit next to Burial’s work and also retain it’s own identity. I think I recognise some Cycling 74 plug-ins here, or some fantastic MaxMSP work. 5. I feel like now we’ve moved onto a dank, leaky interior like some warehouse with bits of roof missing. Drips of water and some coming together of spidery life forms coalesce into the basis for a warm yet beguiling closing of the record. I adored this record and you can get it from Tapu Records (Chris Dooks)

Het is vreemd om een muziekrecensie te starten met het beschrijven van een hoes. Voor de hoes van de compilatie Sound Years van geluidskunstenaar Michel Banabila zijn foto’s gebruikt van Gerco de Ruijter. De foto’s deden me denken aan een bepaald deel van Andalusië aan de Spaanse zuidkust, namelijk het tuinbouwgebied tussen Murcia en Almería. Daar zijn uitgestrekte vlaktes van met plastic opgetrokken tuinbouwkassen te vinden.
Ooit, toen ik daar voor het eerst overheen vloog, op weg naar een vakantiebestemming aan zee, leek het vanuit de lucht of er grote glinsterende meren of zwembaden te zien waren. Nadat het vliegtuig de daling had ingezet werd pas zichtbaar wat de rechthoekige vlakken precies waren. Op de hoes een paar prachtfoto’s die inderdaad gemaakt zijn in de buurt van Almería met een aan een vlieger vastgemaakte camera.
Net als de foto’s vormen de diverse muziekstukken op dit album een geschakeerde eenheid. Alle oorspronkelijke tracks zijn aan elkaar gemixt tot twee langere stukken en zijn pas bij nadere intensieve beluistering van elkaar te onderscheiden. Dat is dan weer vergelijkbaar met de kassen op de foto’s. De hoes en plaat vormen wat mij betreft dan ook een zeldzaam mooie eenheid. Michel is een kei in het maken van abstracte en meanderende ambient met hier en daar knisperende en schurende geluiden. Zijn werk is vaak ook voorzien van warme sounds, al dan niet geproduceerd met gemanipuleerde samples van menselijke stemmen. Die combinatie is wat mij betreft kenmerkend voor Michel.
Het album Sound Years start met de niet eerder uitgebrachte prachtige track Close To The Moon. Het basismateriaal is uit de periode 2005 – 2016, waarbij ook twee tracks zijn gebruikt met anderen, namelijk Radio Spelonk met Oene van Geel en Yarra met Rutger Zuyderveldt onder de naam Machinefabriek. Wonderlijk hoe het Michel is gelukt om een ijzersterk album af te leveren, met dit materiaal uit verschillende periodes. Officieel een compilatie, maar in werkelijkheid een heerlijk consistente en toch gevarieerde eenheid. De volgende keer dat ik naar Andalusië vlieg gaat de digitale versie van Sound Years zeker mee op mijn mp3-speler. (Koert Sauer)

released February 2, 2017

All tracks composed by Michel Banabila except:
'Radio Spelonk' by Banabila & Van Geel.
'Yarra' by Banabila & Zuydervelt.

Mastering: Marlon Wolterink at White Noise Studio.

Photography: Gerco de Ruijter.
Layout: Rutger Zuydervelt.
PR: Dense Promotion Berllin.

UPC 753907987683.
Pressing: MPO France.
Manufactured by Mobineko.

2016 ℗ Tapu Records / 020TR

Sound Years - Discogs