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Early Works / Things Popping Up From The Past

by Michel Banabila

  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Bureau B / Tapete Records release , in full color sleeve - with photos and liner notes by Marc Weidenbaum, artwork by Marielle Uiterwijk Winkel

    Includes unlimited streaming of Early Works / Things Popping Up From The Past via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Bureau B / Tapete Records release , in digipak - booklet with photos and liner notes by Marc Weidenbaum, artwork by Marielle Uiterwijk Winkel

    Includes unlimited streaming of Early Works / Things Popping Up From The Past via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 2 days

      €9 EUR or more 


  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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      €6 EUR  or more





CD + booklet / vinyl LP + inlay (reissue):
Early works / Things popping up from the past

Michel Banabila, born 1961, is a sound artist, composer, and producer. Banabila releases music since 1983 and has produced musical scores for numerous films, documentaries, theatre plays and choreographies. This album collects 11 songs from his early years, released on tape, vinyl EPs or limited CD editions: beautiful minimal loop-based electronica, neo-classical pieces and ambient drone music. A true discovery ! (Bureau B)

liner notes:

Numerous threads run through the music of Michel Banabila, whose contemporary work ranges from adventurous electronic cross-breeding of chamber instrumentation, to industrial rhythmic sampling, to outward-bound modular synthesis, to deeply elegiac drones.

What is remarkable about this collection of early pieces is just how many of Banabila’s ongoing fascinations had already taken root, when he was barely half his current age. The child apparently is not merely the father to the man; he is also his music tutor. In particular, there are extended sequences of neoclassical loveliness and dense patches of Fourth World exploration that, matters of specific equipment aside, could have been recorded yesterday. Except that they weren’t.

The classical activity heard here constitutes a romantic attachment to the Old World, filtered through a contemporary sense of proportion. Banabila’s piano, its atmospheric gestures bringing to mind the proto-minimalism of Erik Satie, echoes with a disarming simplicity. The sweetness of the tune masks his determined compositional focus on loop-like repetitions, on the ever so slight variations between pulses, on training the listener’s ear to hear inside the notes, between the notes, to be receptive to matters that are more tactile than tonal. The melody could easily be an additional hundred years old — except for fact that the refined patterning is something that likely only could have been pursued in light of the music of Michael Nyman and Philip Glass. Similarly, a solo harmonium performance circles around a song that could be a maudlin street-corner serenade in a benighted district of a nameless Eastern European city — and yet it has a self-consciousness of the instrument’s breath-like quality that marks it, however subtly, as modern music.

And, of course, this isn’t modern music. This is music several decades after the fact. It is no longer of our time. The equipment on which it was made, notably an early sampler, was limited in various ways, key among them the relatively circumspect set of capabilities, especially in terms of memory storage, and the lack of received performance techniques. The equipment was simple and it was new, and neither factor limited Banabila’s ambition; to the contrary, the tools concentrated his imagination.

If the classical pieces represent the Old World as framed by the new, then the more recognizably “electronic” work here is likewise most at home in a fictional place, an idealized zone. That zone is a quiet neighborhood in the Fourth World, to borrow Jon Hassell’s terminology, one in which digital tools render something that is, for all its technological dependency, ultimately a form of folk music — an otherworldly folk music for another time. At that time and in that place, a percussive guitar figure lends momentum to ethereal synthesized choral vocals. Fidgety percussion plays amid a fierce but restrained guitar line (there are echoes of Laurie Anderson and Adrian Belew). An ambiguous and elongated drone, thick with subliminal activity, beautiful in its toxic anxiety, suggests dire activity on the horizon.

And yet the horizon wasn’t dire. Quite the contrary, what was ahead for Banabila was a long string of releases, a healthy and well-documented career in which so many of these individual threads have been provided time and space to have entire records dedicated to their pursuit. This album of archival works is a document, and what it documents is the continuity inherent in Banabila’s music. It is a map in musical form, and the path it traces is one that crisscrosses back and forth between the Old World and the Next.

Marc Weidenbaum
San Francisco, California
February 2016

Reviews / quotes:

Michel Banabila is a prolific Dutch experimental composer, specializing in minimalist electronica. He’s quite prolific, too; on Discogs, he has fifty-two albums to his credit, and that’s just to his name, not including his side projects. His work has a unifying sound: the beauty of ambient music, as performed by modern technology. Bureau B’s new compilation Early Works does an admirable job of introducing Banabila to the listener unfamiliar with his work.
For the most part, the compilation goes straight for the gentle, delicate work. It’s hard not to drift off into a netherworld of pleasantness when listening to “October” and “The Call.” Harold Budd is recalled on “Piano 1” and “Piano 2,” as well as on the gorgeous “Harmonium Improv 1” and “Harmonium Improv 2,” which tempers the delicateness of piano with a hushed, cooling drone that never imposes any heaviness on the listener. Not that he can’t do drone well; “The Lost Drone Tapes” show that he’s a master of that style, too; the sounds and atmosphere is heavy, but it’s never short of beauty. Banabila has released a lot of music over the course of three decades; one can find his work scattered throughout the internet, via Spotify, Youtube, and other sources. But Early Works offers an excellent look at the man’s early years, where it’s obvious that Banabila realized quite early that he is a gifted, talented composer. This music serves as a perfect escape from the heat of an oppressive Summer sun. (Joseph Kyle)

De kans dat de naam Michel Banabila een belletje doet rinkelen, is eerder klein. Maar zoek de Nederlandse geluidsdesigner even op bij Discogs en besef dan dat er zomaar eventjes drieënvijftig albums op 's mans naam staan! Voer voor het Duitse label Bureau B dus, dat gespecialiseerd is in het opgraven en afstoffen van lang vergeten opnamen uit het krautrock- en ambientelektronicamilieu!
Filmmuziek, neoklassieke sfeerplaten, repetitieve synthesizerambient, industriëel experimentalisme … noem het en het past wel ergens in het kraam van Michel Banabila. Zoals zijn titel verraadt, grijpt dit album dus terug naar de bron: de huiskamertapes, op viersporen recorder opgenomen muzikale vindsels waarbij minimalisme en atmosfeer versterkt worden door de ruis van de beperkte technische faciliteiten. Het echte spul van in de beginperiode zeg maar, meestal zelfs zonder definitieve titel. Of dat nu gaat over een donker, droevig pianothema dat in al zijn soberheid een erg broos, filmisch gevoel oproept (Piano N° 2) of een drijvend ambientgepingel op synthesizer en gitaar met een wat Oosterse inslag (October), Banabila vindt steeds een mooie esthetiek in eenvoud, warmte en melodie en beroept zich op grote namen als Brian Eno of Erik Satie. Slechts af en toe verlaat de klankcomponist en producer zijn aardse eenvoud om in een ander universum te glijden. Luister maar even naar The Lost Drones Tape No. 3 met zijn ijzige soundscape, reverb, spacebubbels en gekke broebels, dat effectief een stevige trip is richting ander melkwegstelsel. Zelfde verhaal trouwens met The Workers (Des Traces Retrouvées III), een fantasie met krakende samples, verre gitaarhalo’s en een waas van neerdrukking en mysterie. Wat vooral ook in de meest eenvoudige stukken opvalt, waar enkel piano of gelaagd kerkorgelspel op synthesizer een filmische sfeer oproepen, is dat Michel Banabila echt een man van toetsen is en een mooie lyriek in zijn spel legt. Dat verklaart waarom minimalisme en simplisme hier zo sterk overkomen. Het is de voorbode voor de neoklassieke ontwikkeling van de Nederlander. Tegelijkertijd zet het afsluitende The Lost Drones Tape N°.#2 met zijn meer dan acht minuten sfeer en gemoedelijkheid via een flinterdunne drone en zachte droomscapes de weg open naar een mooie ambienttoekomst. ‘Early Works  (…)’ biedt een breed inzicht in de beginjaren van deze erg productieve en veelzijdige artiest. Naast een leuk tijdsdocument, is het echter ook een fijne en afwisselende plaat die gerust een keertje extra mag beluisterd worden. (Johan Giglot)

Af en toe is het goed om terug te blikken. Veel van zijn eerste muziek is op cassettes, vinyl of gelimiteerde cd’s uitgebracht. Dit overzichtswerk bevat stukken uit zijn beginperiode, zoals van zijn albums Des Traces Retrouvées I en III en The Lost Drones Tapes, alsmede vier niet eerder uitgegeven stukken. In totaal krijg je 11 tracks, die ook nu nog staan als een modern huis en afwisselend drones, ambient, neoklassiek, minimal music en experimentele elektronica laten horen. Het is een prachtige ontdekkingstocht door zijn vroegere werk geworden en waarvan je enkel hoopt dat er nog meer van zal verschijnen. (JanWIllem Broek)

Alors que son album Marilli figure en bonne place dans notre wishlist, le label Bureau B a eu la bonne idée de ressortir du placard les splendides harmonies de Michel Banabila. Une invitation à la rêverie qu’on ne peut refuser, à l’instar du premier morceau October… On repeat.

Niemiecka wytwórnia Bureau B opublikowała płytę z bardzo rzadkimi utworami Michela Banabily, które powstały na początku jego kariery.
Nie tak dawno recenzowałem podwójny album „Tapu sampler” holenderskiego muzyka, kompozytora i producenta, będący zbiorem jego nagrań z lat 2007-2015. Można potraktować ten materiał jako szybki sprawdzian z tego, co w ostatnich latach prezentował Banabila. W przypadku longplaya „Early Works / Things popping up from the past” cofamy się w czasie jeszcze dalej gdzieś w okolice lat 80., ponieważ z tego okresu pochodzą kompozycje. Przypomnę, że artysta aktywnie działa od 1983 roku. Na „Early Works…” znajdziemy jedenaście różnych utworów nie tylko pod względem brzmienia czy użytych instrumentów, ale przede wszystkim pokazujących szeroki wachlarz możliwości tego utalentowanego kompozytora. W takich fragmentach jak „Harmonium improv #1/improv #2” i „Piano No. #1/#2” można doszukać się – jak trafnie zauważył Marc Weidenbaum w swoim tekście – inspiracji twórczością Michaela Nymana oraz Philipa Glassa. Ale na tym krążku są też takie nagrania, które mogłyby być zarejestrowane dosłownie wczoraj, choćby dwa ambientowe „Des Traces Retrouvées I, No. #4”, „The Lost Drones Tape No. #2” i bardziej eksperymentalne „The Workers”. W lekko etnicznym „A Sharp Silver Line” z kolei mamy solówkę gitarową Banabily bliższą stylowi Adriana Belewa z King Crimson. Niesamowite jest to – jak już wspomniałem – że większość utworów z tego zestawu nie kojarzy się z kiczem lat 80., nawet nie ma przepychu jeśli chodzi o syntezatory, a jak już są to raczej w aranżacjach z pogranicza minimalizmu i muzyki klasycznej. Mimo dużej rozpiętości stylistycznej, „Early Works/Things popping up from the past” słucha się jako całości. (Łukasz Komła)

NORMAN RECORDS staff review:
This a collection of early works by Banabila, he has previously done all sorts in his career including theatre. But don’t let that put you off as this collection has some moments that you’ll want to spend time visiting if you are a fan of Michael Nyman or Philip Glass. The opening ‘October’ could in fact come from any number of Woo LPs. Elsewhere we get off kilter piano compositions (‘Piano no 2’), Eno/Fripp-like instrumental scapes with wobbly guitar solos (‘A Sharper Silver Line’) and all manner of variations of oddball drones. Some of it’s disconcertingly angular and some is truly mesmeric, ‘The Call’ in particular runs Eno’s ‘Another Green World’ fairly close in faded 70s nostalgia synth. A delightful collection, your ears will thank you for it. 8/10 (Clinton)

Need I still explain Michel Banabila? After his recent period of increased productivity, the “Retro-Market” has found him, too. After all, he started releasing records in 1983, so the time is here. This album collects 11 songs from his early years, released on tape, vinyl EPs or limited CD editions. There’s a great variety – besides the kind of electronic loop-based world-ambient that made him so well-known – like two improvisation pieces on harmonium, found back in his enormous collection of tape recordings, never published before, some minimalist Satie-esque piano pieces, and more abstract, textured drones. The overall feel is that of intimacy, withdrawal and sweet melancholy. (Mariette Groot)

'To hear his first album 'Marilli', go to Michel's bandcamp page and listen to an extensive remix version of it, and you can hear the various traces of the original, but reworked, by Banabila and his many friends; it's a highly recommended remix project'.

'For a real glimpse of old days, Bureau B just released this eleven song release, with four previously unreleased pieces, and pieces from 'Des Traces Retrouvees I' and 'Des Traces Retrouvees III'
and 'The Lost Drones Tapes'. These pieces no longer work using ethnic voices (as was apparent on 'Marilli'), but purely dwell on Banabila's own playing of the Roland S10 sampler, piano, found objects and harmonium. Banabila's music these days may take many forms, from modular synth to electro-acoustics to ambient, in these old days it was all about moods and textures'.

'The music is dreamy and meditative but never borders on the tired clichés of new age; it sounds naive but after some thirty years it is also surprisingly fresh. It's minimal music and it always remains very playful, never very strict'.

'These eleven pieces are a highly varied bunch but it makes great sense putting these together. Not just because it shows the many sides of Michel Banabila (even back then!), but also because it makes such a great listen. Always atmospheric but with delicate touches on offer, this is a great CD. (FdW)

Sinds 1983 overstelpt de Nederlander de mensheid met releases, die meestal behoorlijk interessant zijn.
Voor deze collectie ‘vroeg werk’ dook Bureau B de archieven in en komt naar boven met nummers uit ‘Des Traces Retrouvees I’ (1984), ‘Des Traces Retrouvees III’ (1987) en ‘The Lost Drones Tape (1988).
Cassettes en een mini-album die al jaren onvindbaar zijn en hier worden aangevuld met vier onuitgegeven nummers die verder bouwen op wat de ooit verschenen stukken al lieten horen.
En dat is een Banabila die ondanks de beperkingen van het materiaal in die tijd, inventief aan de slag ging.
Harmonium improvisaties, stijlvolle ambient, en piano muziek die erg klassiek aandoet, wisselen elkaar af.
We denken meteen aan Erik Satie, vroege Philip Glass, en Michael Nyman, mede door het filmische karakter van de meeste nummers.
Banabila zit er dan ook niet om verlegen muziek te componeren die in allerlei disciplines kan worden gebruikt.
‘Early Works / Things Popping Up From The Past’ is een mooie aanvulling op het fysiek beschikbare werk van veelzijdig artiest Banabila (PB)

Holenderski muzyk Michel Banabila nie daje nam odpocząć! Płyty z jego najnowszymi nagraniami ukazują się bardzo często. Okazuje się jednak, że również w przeszłości Michel miał wiele do powiedzenia na polu muzyki elektronicznej i nie tylko!

Krążek „Early Works / Things Popping Up From The Past„, ukazał się na płycie CD, ale także na płycie winylowej nakładem wytwórni Bureau B, która to wytwórnia specjalizuje się właśnie w wydawaniu wczesnych prac muzyków, którzy utrwalili swoje miejsce na niezależnej scenie muzycznej. Tak, aby mieć to już za sobą, napiszę od razu o tym, co wg mnie jest mankamentem tego wydawnictwa – jedenaście utworów nie stanowi bardzo spójnego przekazu muzycznego, a to dlatego, że każdy z nich jest trochę „z innej bajki” i trochę z innego okresu twórczości – część z lat 80tych, a inne są aż o dekadę młodsze! Jednocześnie ten mankament może stanowić też o sile przekazu tego wydawnictwa! Jeśli nie poszukujemy albumu koncepcyjnego, opartego na podobnych brzmieniach, czy pomysłach realizacyjnych, to „Early Works…” stanowi świetną okazję do tego, by zapoznać się z zupełnie różnymi podgatunkami muzycznymi – od eksperymentów brzmieniowych, przez ambient czy drone, aż po krótkie szkice zagrane na pianinie.

Mimo tego, że utwory powstały w latach 80tych i 90tych, nie słychać w nich żadnych inspiracji modnymi w tamtych czasach gatunkami muzycznymi. Banabila wypracował bardzo unikatowy styl, który przenosi na coraz to nowy poziom w kolejnych swoich współczesnych wydawnictwach, a przy okazji „Early Works…” słuchacz dowiaduje się, że już w początkach swojej kariery (którą datuje się na rok 1983), artysta poszukiwał nietuzinkowych środków wyrazu artystycznego.

Ciekawe kompozycje to prace oparte na pętlach: „October (Des Traces Retrouvées III)”, „A Sharp Silver Line (Des Traces Retrouvées III)” gdzie można dostrzec podobieństwo do nagrań King Crimson i stylu Andriana Belewa. Moimi osobistymi faworytami są utwory, w których Banabila korzysta z pianina: w „Harmonium improv #1/improv #2” i „Piano No. #1/#2” można dostrzec inspiracje pracami Philipa Glassa – jednocześnie uważny słuchacz odnajdzie w nich tak popularny dzisiaj styl rozwijany przez Nilsa Frahma. Świetne są też momenty dronowe – „The Lost Drones Tape No. #3 (The Lost Drones Tape)” i ambientowe „The Lost Drones Tape No. #2 (The Lost Drones Tape)”.

Jak zwykle Michel Banabila nie pozostawia słuchacza obojętnym na swoje dokonania na polu muzycznym. Wszystko wskazuje na to, że po zapoznaniu się z tak ciekawymi początkami kariery Holendra, możemy spokojnie otworzyć umysł, by zagłębić się w jego współczesne dokonania. (Grzegorz Bojanek)

PEEK A BOO magazine:
You may contradict me, but the most beautiful thing about music is that you always can discover something new, a name you've never heard before and makes your life better, or at least more colorful. We’re sure that very few people are familiar with Michel Banabila. Nevertheless, this Dutch musician made 53 (!) albums and worked on 10 Steps To Heaven by Holger Czukay.

Today, he mainly composes music for Dutch theater, but in the 80s he was one of the (many) brilliant ambient artists who were barely noticed. Music that often was released on a simple tape. Bureau B. compiled this wonderful compilation with those forgotten releases.

Sometimes you hear simple piano pieces in Satie style, then it's Eno ambient with ethnic sounds (A Sharp Silver Line) or just a sublime improvisation (Harmonium Improv 2).

Early Works/Things Popping Up From The Past is a wonderful release of forgotten tracks that ended up in a dusty cupboard... out of sight, and yet so beautiful!

(Didier BECU)

Dutch composer & electronic musician Michel Banabila has appeared a lot on this show, in collaboration with other Dutch musicians like Machinefabriek and Oene van Geel as well as on his own. His music ranges from beautiful drones to worldbeat, layered rhythmic vocal samples and processed acoustic instruments, and he's comfortable in the digital space – so it's fascinating to hear these unearthed Early Works, mostly dating from the mid 1980s. Here we hear his art growing into itself, and his style can already be sensed, where gossamer melodies run over muted percussion and wheezing drone instruments. You can hear stacks of his music on his Bandcamp, and it's highly recommended. This may be as good a place as any to begin. (Peter Hollo)

"Uit het harmonium tovert hij langzame, logge, minimale klanken, die steeds herhaalt worden."
"De compilatie sluit af met een acht minuten durende, donkergekleurde ambientdrone: rustpunt op een compilatie vol slow music."
"Het is zo samengesteld dat de klanken in elkaar over lijken te gaan en een tijdloos ambient-meesterwerk vormen." (Oscar Smit)

Se définissant lui-même comme artiste sonore, le néerlandais Michel Banabila œuvre depuis les années 80 dans les mondes du cinéma, du théâtre et de la danse. Ce disque présente, comme son nom l’indique, ses premières productions et on y découvre un compositeur inspiré, déjà inclassable et intéressé par l’expérimentation. Si son travail sur les bourdons de la musique Drone et les samples (dont c’était les premiers pas) fascinent, on retiendra la fraîcheur de ses mélodies et de ses ambiances. Un disque qui pourrait séduire les aficionados de l’ambient, d’un certain jazz moderne, voire des compositeurs classiques du début du XXe siècle. Et surtout ceux qui, sans ornières, sont prêts à s’immerger dans l’univers de Michel Banabila. (Durasbib)

Dutch composer Michel Banabila has been recording and releasing music since 1983 and he has produced musical scores for films, documentaries, plays, and dance. This Early Works retrospective collects eleven out-of-print tracks from his early years, released either on cassette, vinyl EPs, or limited CD editions. The music is a mixture of minimal piano sketches, beautiful electronic loops, neo-classical pieces, and ambient drones. I am only familiar with his 1984 ambient EP Des Traces Retrouvees, which represents a small sample of what appears on Early Works. The piano sketches are ambient atmospheric gestures that flirt with Erik Satie with their simplicity. The harmonium sketches are either minimal repeated note patterns ala Philip Glass or approach cathedral organ chords. The looping electronics mixed with piano, guitars, and percussion take the listener in a different direction. And the ambient drone pieces allow the listener to focus on the music and hear inside the notes, between the notes, and be receptive to the music. The best tracks on this collection are “The Workers” with its quasi-industrial vibe and the closing track “The Lost Drones Tape 2” that sustains your interest for its entire eight minutes. Early Works is a musical map that documents Banabila’s journey, and one that crisscrosses back and forth between the old and new.


released June 3, 2016

Michel Banabila:
Roland S10 sampler, piano, found objects, harmonium.

Track 1: ovation guitar by Piet Legerstee.
Track 2: drone by Peter Riebeek.
Track 2: recorded by Peter Riebeek.
Track 1, 5, 6, 9: recorded by Jurgen Brouwer.
Track 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11: recorded by Michel Banabila.
Track 2: with kind permission by Trichord Records.
2016 ℗ + © all tracks published by Tapete Songs.
Liner notes booklet & inlay by Marc Weidenbaum.
Audio edits for this compilation: Radboud Mens.
Track 1 - 11: composed by Michel Banabila.
Photography by Marielle Uiterwijk Winkel.
Artwork design by Kerstin Holzwarth.
Compiled by Gunther Buskies.
Mastering by Jonas Förster.


Cat No BB227
CD No CD 123072
EAN CD 4015698004885
LP No LP 123071
EAN LP 4015698004892


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