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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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Bionulor – Theatre Music


Compared to his previous album with reworkings of Erik Satie‘s music, Bionulor’s “Theatre Music” is spectacularly different in sound.
But not in approach, however, since for this music Bionulor also applies his “100% sound recycling method”, which means he’s strictly re-using pre-recorded material: classical instruments for Coriolanus“, and voice recordings from actress Sylwia Oksiuta performing SKAZAna”.
Although in both cases, the source is not easily recognisable.

Knowing that Sebastian Banaszczyk (Bionulor) is an actor by profession, it is not really surprising that he also creates music for theatre productions.
What ís surprising, is the way this music turns out to be a spectacular listen even if detached from the corresponding theatre plays.
Both albums are created for quite different theatre productions, but are offered as a 2 CD set totalling almost two hours of compelling abstract theatre music.

Coriolanus is a ‘somewhat refreshed’ version of the Shakespeare tragedy ’embedded in realities of a political and media 21st century spectacle’.
If you think the recycling of classical instrument lead to post-classical compositions, you are wrong. These are quite hard-core, raw electronic soundscapes, the atmosphere suggesting that the 21st century transition of the original Shakespeare tragedy is not an optimistical play to watch.

(‘Revenge on Aufidiusa, Act 3’) (from ‘Coriolanus’)

Neither is SKAZAna (‘Sentenced’), probably: an authorial monodrama by Sylwia Oksiuta, dealing with “the subject of a girl sexually abused by her stepfather” – hence the somewhat provocative album cover image.
voice recordings are stripped to the bare essentials, not even recognisable as ‘human’ anymore – which may thematically be perfectly in line with the play’s theme.

(‘Suicide’) (from ‘SKAZAna’)

Thematically, both plays deal with dark themes an will obviously not be easy to watch, and the accompanying music is not exactly ‘easy listening’ either.
But in this case, that is definitely meant as a recommendation!

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Gluid – Metamorphosis; Arpatle – The Day After

Can this be a coincidence?

In the same week I have received two new albums with a remarkable resemblance: both are from Dutch artists, both have a bright ‘lightweight’, almost ‘poppy’, feeling yet are experimental in their creative use of sound samples. Also, both are defying contemporary genres. They’re not ambient, not too experimental, not strictly electronic, not improvised, but definitely not ‘mainstream pop’ either.

Could it be we’re defining a new genre here?


The Metamorphosis refers to Franz Kafka’s classic Die Verwandlung’. This music was originally written for a theatre production based on Kafka’s 1915 novel.
Gluid (dutch for sound but missing the first vowel) is Bram van den Oever, and this is his fourth release. Musically, it is not unlike his remarkable 2007 release Binnensuis (dutch for ‘home interior’, but missing a consonant), describing a woman’s neurotic compulsive behaviour in a way too close for comfort – but this itme without the spoken word.
There’s a thematic resemblance between these two releases, an undeniable uncomfortable aspect to the seemingly lightweight music. Always something underneath hiding; things are never just what they seem to be.
The Metamorphosis EP is not released in physicial format, it can be downloaded for free! But please consider to donate to support the artist and his label Esc.Rec (pronounced like Ass-Crack – neither vowel nor consonent missing here).

Gluid -Faulty Narcosis


Patrick ‘Arpatle’ Bossink (from Utrecht, Holland) has his new album released through Dublin-based Psychonavigation Records. Like Gluid’s album, “The Day After” also defies the usual genre classifications. It is described as ‘found sound with dub techniques’, but I doubt that description fully fits the album’s music.
It has a nice ‘airiness’ distinguishing it from many other contemporary releases, and links experimentalism, creative sound-searching to an accessible poppy (though not ‘mainstream’) sound worth checking out.

Arpatle – Headache

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