Michel Banabila * Whettman Chelmets

Unspeakable Vision


Shortly after Michel Banabila dropped The Unreal Realm, he’s back with a new album titled Unspeakable Visions. This new album shows a completely different side of Banabila‘s music, demonstrating his musical versatility.
Unspeakable Visions is his second release on the Amsterdam-based Knekelhuis – a label ‘motivated by conflict and surprise, [releasing music that’s] as alien as it is familiar, as bodily as it is soulful, as bizarre as it is beautiful’.

Unspeakable Visions perfectly fits this description. The (eleven) tracks are relatively short this time – most are under five minutes. All are created around manipulated vocal samples, some of which can be recognized from his earlier work or live performances. It feels as if these samples come from about every corner of the world, but I assume Banabila created most of them – if not all – himself.
Paired with fitting instrumental arrangements, the tracks range from evoking fourth-world atmospheres to ambient soundscapes and lively rhythmic patterns.

While his early influences from Eno & Byrne’s “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” and the spirit of Jon Hassell can still be discerned, Banabila has sculpted his own personal style over the past four decades. His evolution has birthed a genre-defying sound that’s instantly identifiable and impossible to replicate. Unspeakable Visions presents the kind of music that only Michel Banabila himself can create.

A New Place


Multi-instrumentalist Whettman Chelmets (from Joplin, Missouri) describes his music as ‘ambient drone shoegazey composed. Confrontational, uplifting, and silly’.
It is indeed a bit hard to get a grip on his music, especially in the first minutes when one of his children performs a kind of free-form improvisation. But from there, things fall into place and a deeper soundscape unfolds, one with a sonic surprise around every corner. Soft passages can suddenly derail into violent distortion, which retreats just as quickly. Chelmets uses everything he’s got – guitar, trumpet, field recordings, synths, his kids (on vocal and on ‘screwdriver guitar’), and who knows what else to throw us off guard.

The title track of this album, a 7’14” ‘power ambient’ piece, is the shortest of the three. It is preceded by Prelude To A New Place, which is twice as long. The album closes with the 19+-minute Longing For A New Place. Slowly building up to a sonic climax halfway, it suddenly changes into a different atmosphere. The second half could as well be a different track, with Chelmets playing his trumpet as if it was recorded in a street – which radiates a sense of longing indeed.
One could wonder why this album is released on a label called Quiet Details: it isn’t exactly ‘quiet’…
But it definitely is full of details!

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