Michel Banabila is an indispensable part of the Dutch experimental music scene, where he has acquired a special place with many, in the 40 years that he has been releasing music. Michel is also just as active as a composer for the theater and ballet world, as well as for TV productions, to considerable fame. The threat of drowning in the sea of his oeuvre is real in view of the unprecedented amount of output, but once sailing unmissable monolithic rock formations loom up rapidly.
Echo Transformations’ is one of them. It’s a magical album, where everything falls into place in a rich domain inspired by the Fourth World dimension. A world of sound arises from our imagination, stimulating the senses. A concept album where every sigh has its place and where no superfluous tone can be heard. What remains is to embrace the inevitable surrender that accompanies unstoppable change. This is Banabila at his best.
Mastering & remastering by Wouter Brandenburg
All composed & performed by Michel Banabila
Executive producer: Mark van de Maat
Artwork by Keziah Philipps
Design by Steele Bonus
An actual real new album by Dutch grandmaster Michel Banabila, who rose to fresh fame in the wake of the rediscovery of Forth World music sometime in the mid-2010s. »Echo Transformations« is for everyone as well who still love their John Hassell, Andrew Pekler and Steve Reich. Marimbas and distant birds let listeners know right away where they are. But that’s not why this album is here. It’s because MIchel Banabila succeeds in translating these much-used ethno tropes into driving grooves, giving his sound an urgency that has nothing to do with the interchangeability of some of the exotic ambient releases of the last ten years.HHV Mag
Veteran Dutch sound artist and composer Michel Banabila celebrates four decades of releases with this latest set of fourth world atmospheres, ferric ambience and warped electro-acoustic manipulation. RIYL Andrew Pekler, Machinefabriek or Visible Cloaks.
On “Echo Transformations”, Banabila conceptualizes a virtual space and skates around ideas with freeform glee. He’s been working as a composer for theater and TV for many years, and has an impressive catalogue of solo albums, as well as collaborations with Scanner and Machinefabriek – this album feels like an opportunity for him to flex his inter-dimensional muscle. The loose framework is hinged around the fourth world stylings of Jon Hassell, but Banabila has more in mind than reverberated marimba (although there’s plenty of that, too).
The album’s striking centerpiece is levitational long-form zoner ‘The Three Stage Of Endurance’, that allows cybernetic syllables to sing out over loose environmental recordings and distant tape loops. There’s a breath of Oneohtrix Point Never’s early material in there behind the future-ancient glow, but Banabila’s music is deeper, submerged in layers of psychedelic waveform wobble and stuttering a-rhythmic percussion. ‘Zoosemiotics’ is a particular zoner, and plays rubbery wind tones through mouthy electrical processes, letting an inebriated electronic rhythm and dank vibraphone hits create a Badalamenti-esque backdrop.
At its best, “Echo Transformations” sounds like a spectral companion to Andrew Pekler’s “Sounds From Phantom Islands” or Visible Cloaks’ “Reassemblage”. There’s a sense that Banabila, having cut his teeth writing narrative music for other peoples’ visual worlds, has far more fun imagining his own.Boomkat