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DEVENDRA BANHART

Devendra Banhart

Flying Wig

    Flying Wig is an album of recurrent dualities; a can of paradoxes, a box of worms. The redwood and pine-surrounded cabin studio where Banhart was “constantly listening to The Grateful Dead” somehow birthed something slick, modernist, city pop-adjacent and Enoesque.

    Banhart's eleventh record, it's the actualisation of a “precious friendship” with the acclaimed solo artist, multi-instrumentalist, producer and Mexican Summer stable-mate Cate Le Bon — a coming together prophesied by the mirror-image titles of their early solo albums (Banhart’s 2002 Oh Me Oh My to Le Bon’s 2009 Me Oh My) and a tenderness built on crude haircuts (“we finally met, soon after she was cutting my hair with a fork and that was that”) and home-made tattoos — but never previously translated into the recording studio.

    “It’s about transmuting despair into gratitude, wounds into forgiveness, and grief into praise,” - the product of a ritualistic creative practice that melts down and re-casts as it mulls, the stuff of sadness beautified as it changes shape — culminating in a record that “sounds like getting a very melancholic massage, or weeping, but in a really nice outfit… if I’m going to cry, I wanna do it in my best dress.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: A silk-smooth melting pot of neo-soul, woozy Balearic and city pop, all topped with Banhart's syrupy vocals. There are hooks aplenty, but they sit beneath waves of reverb-drenched keys, guitar and bursts of trill brass.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Feeling
    2. Fireflies
    3. Nun
    4. Sight Seer
    5. Sirens
    6. Charger
    7. Flying Wig
    8. Twin
    9. May
    10. The Party

    Devendra Banhart & Noah Georgeson

    Refuge

      Last spring, Devendra Banhart and Noah Georgeson started to make a record that was like nothing they had made before — an ambient album that would be both a haven from a suddenly terrified world and a heartfelt musical dialogue between two artists who have been friends and collaborators for over two decades. Refuge is an album of profound meditative beauty which offers the listener a much-needed sense of peace and renewal. But while it was recorded in 2020 its roots go back much further — all the way to the start of their friendship and, beyond that, to the shared sounds and ethics of their childhoods.

      Devendra grew up in Venezuela while Noah, six years older, is a native of Nevada City, California. But as they got to know each other, they realised that they had a similar history in the New Age subculture of the 1980s: a world of meditation, Eastern music, the Bhagavad Gita and The Whole Earth Catalog. Childhood memories were coloured by the aromas of health food stores and the sound of New Age labels like Windham Hill Records. Noah, whose production and mixing credits include Joanna Newsom and the Strokes, came on board as co-producer of Devendra’s 2005 album Cripple Crow and they have been working together ever since.

      It was while making Devendra’s 2019 album Ma that the pair finally decided to make their ambient record. Despite complicating logistics, 2020 created an emotional craving for music with this contemplative, therapeutic quality. Inspired by both memories of the past and the needs of the present, Refuge is an act of companionship and generosity which gives the listener room to breathe. “We’re hoping to create a sense of comfort and coming back to the moment,” Devendra says. “It’s really important to have a little bit of space between us and our anxieties and impulses. What you do with that space is up to you.” Dorian Lynskey May 2021

      TRACK LISTING

      SIDE A: 
      1. Book Of Bringhi
      2. A Cat
      3. Rise From Your Wave
      4. Peloponnese Lament

      SIDE B:
      5. In A Cistern
      6. Into Clouds
      7. For Em

      SIDE C: 
      8. Three Gates
      9. Horn In Deep Night
      10. Sky Burial

      SIDE D:
      11. Asura Cave
      12. Aran In Repose
      13. Lament Return

      Devendra Banhart was born in Houston, Texas, and moved with his mother to her native Caracas, Venezuela, when his parents separated. The family relocated to Los Angeles during his teenage years; it was there that he learned to speak English, skateboard, and play music. Banhart first began to perform in public while attending the San Francisco Art Institute. He has since lived in New York City, Paris, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, where he currently resides.

      Banhart first attracted international notice with his 2002 debut album, Oh Me Oh My… The Way the Day Goes By the Sun Is Setting Dogs Are Dreaming Lovesongs of the Christmas Spirit – a collection of recordings he had made for himself. Subsequent albums include Rejoicing in the Hands (2004), Niño Rojo (2004), Cripple Crow (2005), and Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon (2007), and What Will We Be (2009). Mala, his Nonesuch debut, was described by Q as a ‘career-best’ and by the Wall Street Journal as his ‘most concise, hushed and winsome effort to date’. Banhart has collaborated with fellow musicians including Anohni (formerly known as Antony) and the Johnsons, Beck, Vashti Bunyan, Os Mutantes, and Vetiver. He also has performed with both Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, and was part of a David Byrne–curated concert at Carnegie Hall.

      An accomplished visual artist, Banhart’s distinctive, minutely inked, often enigmatic drawings have appeared in galleries all over the world, including the Art Basel Contemporary Art Fair in Miami; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels; and Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2015 Prestel published I Left My Noodle on Ramen Street, a collection of his of drawings, paintings, and mixed media pieces. He has created the cover art for most of his records, and in 2010 his artwork and packaging for What Will We Be was nominated for a Grammy.

      Ape in Pink Marble, Devendra Banhart’s ninth album, was written, produced, arranged, and recorded in Los Angeles by the singer/songwriter/guitarist with his longtime collaborators Noah Georgeson and Josiah Steinbrick, both of whom also worked on Banhart’s most recent album, Mala (2013). 




      TRACK LISTING

      1. Middle Names
      2. Good Time Charlie
      3. Jon Lends A Hand
      4. Mara
      5. Fancy Man
      6. Fig In Leather
      7. Theme For A Taiwanese Woman In Lime Green
      8. Souvenirs
      9. Mourner’s Dance
      10. Saturday Night
      11. Linda
      12. Lucky
      13. Celebration

      Devendra Banhart

      Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon

        Devendra Banhart has emerged as one of the most fascinating, unpredictable and inspiring artists of his generation. For the writing and recording of "Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon" Banhart set up housekeeping in a rustic hillside home in the longstanding bohemian enclave of Topanga, North of Los Angeles. Basic tracks were laid down using a core lineup of Banhart (guitar, piano, Cuatro, psaltery), Georgeson (zither, guitar, backing vocals, Hammond B-3, bass, et al), Luckey Remington (bass, guitar, background singing, water drum and freedom chime), Greg Rogove (drums, tablas, supporting vocals, geese and duck calls, pots and pans, mop stomp), and Pete Newsom (piano, keyboards, backing vox). The other musical contributors being Rodrigo Amarante (from Brasil's Los Hermanos on guitar and harmony vocals), Andy Cabic (guitar, vocal support) and Otto Hauser (drums). Where Devendra's previous album "Cripple Crow" sounded like Devendra trading licks with a never ending caravan of passing musical gypsies, "Smokey…" is very much the work of a band. The vocal arrangements are noticeably more intricate and ambitious with lush harmonies running through many of these numbers. The instrumental performances are comfortably loose but in-the-pocket - a rich blend of acoustic and electric guitars, understated drumming and gentle percussion, diffident bass and a variety of downhome keyboards, subtly coloured with the occasional lightest touch of strings or woodwinds.

        Devendra Banhart

        Cripple Crow

          "Cripple Crow" finds Devendra continuing his extraordinary growth as a writer, vocalist and musician. Songs like "Now That I Know" and "I Do Dig A Certain Girl" among others provide more of the hushed, mysterious acoustic alchemy that delighted listeners on preceding set though the new tunes show still greater artistic depth and delicacy. Other performances are more elaborate featuring a range of electric instruments, rock rhythm section, sitar, flute, violin, cello, exotic percussion, et cetera. Banhart and company evoke a tribe of sun-dappled psychedelic gypsies on "When They Come", while "Long Haired Child" has a more acid-damaged garage-band cut and thrust. "Pensando Enti", "Quedate Luna" and "Luna De Margarita" are gorgeous ballads sung in lilting Spanish. All in all, "Cripple Crow" witnesses Banhart furthering his mastery of the acoustic/experimental idiom he helped pioneer as well providing himself with fresh challenges an artist.


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