(this side has the tracks jointed, making it one uninterrupted mix):
A1. Close To The Moon (previously unreleased / 2016)
A2. Earth Visitor (from Earth Visitor / 2016)
A3. E.T. (from Traces / 2007)
A4. Gorlice (from Live in Gorlice / 2014)
A5. 47 Voice Loops (from 47 Voice Loops / 2013)
(this side has the tracks jointed, making it one uninterrupted mix):
B1. Stone Bridge (from Hilarious Expedition / 2005)
B2. Niki Jumpei (from Gardening / 2012)
B3. TAPE (mix 3) (from Bouwwerk / 2010)
B4. Shortwave (from Hilarious Expedition / 2005)
B5. Radio Spelonk (from Music for viola and electronics II / 2015) with Oene van Geel
B6. Vuka Vuka! intro (from Songs from Vuka Vuka! / 2005)
B7. The Turtle Came Back (from Gardening / 2012)
B8. Yarra (from Travelog / 2013) with Machinefabriek
Reviews / quotes:
“Sound Years” is a Michel Banabila sampler, segueing selected tracks from ten previous albums along with one new work into two gentle, chilled-out continuous pieces. This has the diversity and variation of a various artists chillout compilation, but impressively, it’s all the work of one man (and a couple of guest appearances).
Smoothness is the order of the day here. Gentle piano melodies, occasional plaintive guitar strums, and found sounds including the classics such as falling rain ambiences and tropical birds, blend with the mellowest flavours of electronica chill-out such as the deftly twisted and re-pitched vocal samples in “Earth Visitor”. Other sections are more pared-down, simple warm drones, deep vocal sustains and cultured resonance.
The second side opens with a slightly more cinematic bent- a real orchestra warming up alongside a virtual one, broad sci-fi choral pads and robotic noises have us floating outside a spaceship. The ambience gradually gets more down-to-earth, with plaintive violin lines (from guest Oene Van Geel I think) and micro-cut vocal snippets glitching away in “Radio Spelonk”.
While some of the elements are cliché, they are used tastefully in a way that freshens them up. Even the cockerel crowing sound, used to great effect by The Orb, makes an appearance. In fact The Orb is a comparison worth making; if you like either of The Orb’s most recent two albums, then you should absolutely check “Sound Years” out.
To someone unfamiliar with Banabila’s work, this is a seriously impressive and accomplished retrospective. A wide orchestral palette and some absolutely top-notch production, with a beautiful sense of space and an ability to shift subtly between warm and cold atmospheres, makes this an aural joy in its own right. The transitions are seamless and this absolutely stands up as its own work, without any of the unsatisfying incompleteness you sometimes get in compilations.
It’s released on Banabila’s own Tapu Records. Several of the original albums from which these tracks are sourced are legitimately available to download for free online, and this compilation will definitely make you want to peruse things further. (Stuart Bruce)
NORMAN RECORDS staff review:
These are troubling times, or maybe it’s just because it’s the middle of the week, but fret not for Michel Banabila is here to bring the balm. This lovely guy has a background in producing scores for film, documentaries, theatre and video art. Banabila finds uses for discarded objects and makes tapestries with these along with his electronics, field recordings and shortwave radio bites. The results are greater than the sum of these parts though, of course. The sounds he makes are spectacularly gorgeous and immaculately crafted, so let’s get into it now...
The record opens with the wondrously twilit ‘Close To The Moon’, acoustic oriental instrumentation gently plucked from some mystical faraway place and picking its way through some serene Fripp / Eno type sound bedding. Hints of guitar bubble up amongst the most luscious synth pads and subtle recordings of birdsong, low in the mix. This all segues seamlessly into some Frahm-ish piano and found sounds, Bjorkian vocals flitting in and out. The piano weaves a lovely melody gently around eastern instrumentation, gradually speeding up together with backwards vocals to create a slightly disorienting effect, before warm droning ambience washes back in. It’s as good as having the most relaxing bubble bath. Exotic birdcalls drift back in, soft lulling vocals and heavenly harp all combine to seduce this tired writer. Delicious. Is it time for bed yet? **** (Jamie)
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. (Peter van Cooten)
HEAR AND NOW:
Sound Years is a mix curated by Dutch musician Michel Banabila from recordings created variously for stage productions, documentaries, soundtracks and other releases from the previous 11 years. As you can see, it was released in a quiver inducing vinylophiles pleasure-dream - a clear platter of sound exploration. The Bandcamp link above takes you to an edit of the release.
I enjoy Michel's music for it's imaginative panoramas which are enhanced by his engagement with avant and sound art methodology. Michel is a master of experimental ambient and this is where he excels. Exterior environments/field recordings are integral to many of his works. Musique concréte too. This exploratory aspect of his work is tempered by his inclusion of jazz, blues, African, Indian/Asian, classical/opera and other popular forms. Through these methodologies, he creates intriguing musical hybrids that, I feel, expand the musical traditions he utilises into original and unique soundworlds. I feel he is at the forefront of unalienating avant and creating more accessible approaches, that welcome the unfamiliar listener, rather than estrange them.
The A-side opens with a previously unreleased track Close To the Moon. It's the kind of track that makes Michel's music so likeable, sounds are often tweaked through processing, creating aural hallucinates of the original sound. Oblique familiarity creating intrigue. An arcane vocal burbles. Tricked strike sound akin to a tabla floop. Acoustic guitar motif intone, slowly, calmly at the deeper end of the scale. Organ like keys cycle. Frog click. Ebow glissandi ring. I'm hearing things in a different light - odd combinations of sound source that here, are entirely plausible. A poignant piano motif enters and leaves. The vocal samples return more assertively. Harmonium like drone billows. And a silence. Another movement unfolds. More silences amidst forest sound flowering the mix. Nursery song and noise. For a moment, I glimpse a meeting between the Müm and Eno's Apollo. It closes where a recurring theme throughout this first side has ebbed and flowed - the human voice. In particular it features a sample from Michels 47 Voice Loops release, created for an installation that melded subtlety with complexity.
The B-Side is a kind of aural film. Further out sound-art explorations and compositional technique are to the fore here and in places I'm reminded of Daedelus and DJ Spooky - it has a more cut-up/mixologist feel. Four of the songs featured are lifted from the Hilarious Exhibition and Gardening albums, both which really mirror the musical approach on this side. Frequent collaborators musician/sound-artist Machinefabriek and violinist/improvisor/composer Oene van Geel both share moments on this side too. Their inclusion reinforces the avant and "orchestral" feels present here. In the closing moments of the B-side there is a return to similar musical themes from the A-side through Yarra, from the memorable 2013 release, Travelog. It features a lovely Bayaka like cooing warble. It closes on a poignant piano melody.
In all, Sound Years is a great way to traverse a decade or so of Michel's ouevre.
nb. In 2010, Michel treated us to another career spanning sampler of his music, Streets, Dreams and Memories, collated/mixed by ambientblog's Peter van Cooten. It's available as a download now and is another great overview of Michel's panoramic music, particularly his fourth world recordings. (Perry Holt)
released February 2, 2017
All tracks composed by Michel Banabila except:
'Radio Spelonk' by Banabila & Van Geel.
'Yarra' by Banabila & Zuydervelt.
Mastering: Marlon Wolterink at White Noise Studio.
Michel Banabila has produced musical scores for numerous films, documentaries, video art, theatre plays &
choreographies. Especially keen on mixing disciplines and music styles, Banabila uses elements and influences from jazz, electronic music, classical and world music....more