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Michel Banabila + Maarten Vos

Banabila Sound Years

Banabila + Vos


Michel Banabila‘s musical tree has many roots. Those of you that have checked out his back catalogue (and I hope most regular readers have done), know that it includes experimental electronics, as well as world fusion, jazz, and many productions for theatre, dance, movies and documentaries.
Every branch of his output is interesting in its very own right, but I dare say that his work for theatre and dance productions may often be his most emotionally engaging, as well as the most accessible for audiences not particularly used to ‘experimentalism’.
There’s an impressive list of his work for theatre [here], in case you might know (listing in Dutch).

In the past Banabila  has regularly worked with Conny Janssen for her well-known dance ensemble Conny Janssen DanstFor their 25th anniversary production Home -currently touring the dutch theatres extensively-  she asked him to create the music in collaboration with Maarten Vosand play it live at every performance.

Maarten Vos is a classically trained Dutch cellist.  who also studied Live Electronics. His work combines the two musical areas, merging the two disciplines into a new one. He has collaborated with many other artists such as Julianna Barwick, Greg Haines, Loney Dear, Machinefabriek, The Kyteman Orchestra, and now of course with Banabila. 
Both artists worked together intensely preparing the soundtrack for Conny Janssens’ anniversary production, and their work is captured on this CD which is currently available at the performances. And hopefully – if stock permits – after the tour has ended.


Even without attending the dance performance it was written for, it’s an impressive and diverse soundtrack. A golden combo of electronics and cello  (Maarten Vos is a cellist primarily, but with a soft spot for modular electronics too), capable of conjuring a  multitude of emotions with diverse musical styles.

Their music constantly evolves, so it is doubtful that the music on the last performance will be the same as on the first. As mature and complete as the music on this album may sound, the music captured on CD can be seen as a ‘basic draft’, simply because the CD had to be manufactured before the tour started. This means that the music will have evolved further and some of the tracks will have seen many reworks over time.
Banabila and Vos have found a solution for this: after the tour ends, the music will be made available via Bandcamp in different versions: a complete version (containing the full CD version and various reworks), and an ‘additional’ version containing the reworks only (for those that have already bought the CD version at the CJD performances).

All this, of course, is about the music soundtrack only. But if you read this before the tour ends and live anywhere near Holland, I advise to go see one of the performances for the full Conny Janssen Danst experience. (If tickets are still available, that is).
For all others: keep an eye on the Bandcamp page to see when the full edition is released (which will be the first week of may).

Banabila Sound Years


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.

Banabila has claimed that this could very well be his last physical release before going 100% digital. I wouldn’t take his word for that myself, but if it is, this beautifully packed (transparant vinyl) album (with a striking cover photo by Gerco de Ruijteris a ‘perfect goodbye’ to the vinyl medium.

Purchase of this transparent-vinyl album comes with a download that includes the unreleased Close To The Moon track as a separate bonus track.


The vinyl version of this album is available now (and selling fast), but the digital-only version of this album will be released on March, 21.
Three free advance download codes are available for commenters that answer one of these two questions below:

  • Who would you like to see Banabila collaborate with?
  • Can you take a guess about his favourite fruit?

Entries close sunday february 26!

Winners will be drawn randomly.
Thanks to Michel Banabila for providing these download codes!

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Elektro Guzzi – Parade

Elektro Guzzi

You probably know there’s a category here called ‘other music‘ which is used for music that is not ‘strictly ambient’ but somehow fits into the scope of this blog. But still I sometimes feel the need to recommend an album that is way outside the ‘ambientblog scope’, and so doesn’t really belong here. But on the other hand … why not step out of the ambient box every once in a while?   

Elektro Guzzi


It’s easy to hear why Elektro Guzzi ‘doesn’t belong here’: this is energetic club music with a thriving beat. Drums, bass and electric guitar basically, pumping irresistible rhythms. Especially in the opening and closing track Element (Bone Version) and Schmone – with the somewhat more ‘jazzy’ tracks Speck and Parade in between.
No way I would call this music  ‘ambient music’.

But if you listen closely, there ís a link: in the Basic-Channel-dub style mixing of Speck , the warm vibes, and especially in the additional use of the trombone section featuring Martin Ptak, Daniel Riegler and Hilary Jeffery.
(You may remember Hilary Jeffery for his tromboscillator experiments and his work for the Kilimanjaro DarkJazz Ensemble (among many other projects he was involved in).

“With implementing trombones as extra oscillators, dissociating them from their conventional use, the trombones become part of the human-machine-universe and are used as an additional soud source in order to modulate and explore its variety live on the stage.”


Elektro Guzzi  is an Austrian guitar-bass-drum trio performing ‘techno’ music in a live setting, without using any prerecorded material, loops or computer: basically with only drums, bass and electric guitar. For this release, they enhanced their sound with the addition of (three!) trombones – an instrument which basically cannot be faithfully reproduced electronically.
I’d really love to see them perform live!

Parade is a 4-track EP with work that was commissioned for the Artacts Festival for Jazz and Improvised Music.
The 32 minute mini-album leaves you wanting more. No doubt there wíll be more – and there’s always the back catalogue to check out.
But for now, this one goes on repeat!


Also on Spotify


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Various Artists – Touched Two

Touched Two

I really don’t know where to begin here. This “review” is the very first I ever write without having listened to the album at least a few times.

So, more than usual, this is not a review but a recommendation. How can anyone éver review a 255 (two hundred and fifty five) track compilation that presents 22 (twenty two) hours (and 45 minutes) of music from all kinds of of artists and bands from the contemporary electronic, ambient and modern classical field?

Charity compilations come in all forms & sizes, but Touched Two” is one of truly megalomaniac proportions. Even its predecessor, last year’s Touched”  ‘only’ featured half the tracks (123).
(I don’t suppose this means that next year will see a third edition with more than 510 tracks?? Impossible!)

The sheer size of this compilation is the first thing you will notice: be prepared for a massive download of 3.1 Gb for the MP3 version – for the FLAC version you’ll have to reserve more than 12 Gb of disk space.
But, as is always the case: it’s not just the size, it’s what you do with it!

All of these 255 artists have contributed their music for free – all proceeds from this album are donated to Macmillan Cancer Support.
You can help donate by buying this album for GBP 12 (= EUR 16, USD 19) – which is only GBP 0,05 (EUR 0,06, USD 0,07) per track! Or you could pay/donate some more, of course.
A perfect way to end the year!

I guess this is simply enough for a recommendation.
It’s impossible to list all artists, but you can check out the full list (and preview all tracks) on the bandcamp page.
As an appetizer, here’s a (not very representative) selection of some of the better known artists:
808 State, Antonymes, Arovane, Autechre, Bengalfuel, Brambles & Nest,Clem Leek, Dean DeBenedictis, Dub Tractor, Future Sound of London, Hecq, Higher Intelligence Agency, Luke Vibert, Marsen Jules Trio, Mira Calix & Ulrich Schnauss, Offthesky, Olan Mill, Orbital, Plaid, Pleq+Lauki, Porn Sword Tobacco, Port-Royal, Red Snapper, Richard Devine, Richard H. Kirk, Sun Electric, Will Bolton, u-Ziq. 

And that’s just to name a few!

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The Black Dog – Music for Real Airports

Music for Real Airports

Music for *Real* Airports…” ?? Reading the liner notes, I guess another proposed title for this album could have been “*Real * Music for Airports” :

…a contemporary reply to Brian Eno’s work from the 70s.
“…a more accurate update to Eno’s work, and a to a degree, a riposte.”
“…Some members of The Black Dog were disappointed by Eno’s treatment of the subject in 1978 and have been considering how to produce a more meaningful response ever since.”

Wow…The Black Dog re-defining and upgrading the classic album that practically defined the ambient music genre???

Brian Eno’s Music for Airports (the first of his “ambient music” series) defined a completely new musical context by creating a generative set of endlessly varying musical chords, intended to be non-intrusive, ‘listenable’ and ‘ignorable’ at the same time. Music that could not be reproduced in exactly the same way, music one could not hum along to, because it had no rhythm and lacked any ‘memorable’ melody.
This was not only a record, it was a statement and a new concept.

“Music for Real Airports” is none of that. To me, the quotes above  seem quite an arrogant statement. In fact, they raised the expectations for this album …well, way beyond reach.

“Music for Real Airports” does not redefine music. The Black Dog do not invent any new musical concept unheard before.   

But, having said that, they do deliver a mighty fine-sounding and adventurous album, presenting a colourful palette of electronic music.
Some tracks drone-based and mixed with all kinds of airport/airplane related sounds, are alternated with some heavy thumping rhythm tracks (extremely non-ambient in that respect), as loud and ‘intrusive’ as any dance track should be. 

It’s a fine album, accessible and well-balanced. So: Don’t expect a musical revolution, just enjoy your flight

RELEASE DATE : 10/05/2010 on Soma Records

More information and previews can be found on

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