Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Banco de Gaia - 10 Years (Remixed) (Original TC Review)

Disco Gecko: 2003

(2018 Update:
No, I don't have the actual
10 Years compilation from Mr. Marks. I did, at first. I mean, all those classic Banco tunes, plus assorted rarities like the Jack Dangers rub of How Much Reality Can You Take and the Insect Intelligence version of Amber, gathered onto two discs and all. Of course I got myself that! Then I loaned it out to a friend. Never got it back, though to be fair, I didn't push him to return it either. It's not like it was difficult to 'get' the rare offerings again anyway (most of these can be found on the Rewritten Histories collections now), so I was fine letting 10 Years slide from my coffers. I may be a major Banco fan, but I'm not a completist ...he says while reposting a review for a 'completist only' compilation.

This review is pretty rambly for one of my latter-years TC efforts, probably 33% longer than it needs to be. It's like, whenever I got the chance to talk up Banco at TranceCritic, I didn't hold back one iota. The other reviews I wrote for the website -
Maya and Farewell Ferengistan - were absolute behemoths in word count. Thank God for self-imposed word count, though I'm oh-so tempted to break that rule whenever I get around to Big Men Cry.)

IN BRIEF: Ten years of tour mates.

For good and ill, the remix album has become an undeniable part of dance music’s legacy. It’s reached a point where they are not only expected, but even counted upon in some circles. I’ve seen several bemoan a lacklustre album-proper only to follow such sentiments thinking “hopefully the remixes will make this better.” Trance alone has several albums packaged with an additional remix disc, not to mention the endless follow-up remix discs for the bigger releases. Despite some of the positives that come with the endeavor - the odd time a remix actually does an original better, or rounding up rare and obscure remixes into a single package - far too often these CDs are cynical, quick money-grabs, milking an artist’s music for every potential penny. Ultimately though, remix albums for electronic music share the same status live albums from rock bands do: potentially interesting, sometimes brilliant, but usually skippable.

This is what makes a remix CD for Banco de Gaia even more peculiar. Toby Marks has consistently shied away from cheap commercial gains, so you really can’t take 10 Years: Remixed as such. On the other hand, it’s not like there's been a plethora of remixes of Banco tunes over the years, most of which are done by Marks himself. Despite some notable names being given the re-rub task (Oliver Lieb, Speedy J, Jack Dangers), the trend has been Banco de Gaia does the best remixes of Banco de Gaia. However, those were already included on the 10 Years proper album.

Which brings us back to 10 Years: Remixed - specifically, what exactly is this release all about? I suppose doing a remix album is justifiable when it’s in conjunction with a retrospective album, but Marks knew full well there weren’t enough in his back catalog for a proper CD. If such is the case, then how about brand new remixes of a bunch of classic Banco tunes? Sounds good to me, only there’s a catch: instead of hiring out big names or scene mainstays, Marks got in touch with a bunch of his musical associates from over the years and gave them carte blanche to go wild. And if you’ve followed his musical career, you’d know the man from the World Bank has had some wildly eclectic associates, though with more of a leaning towards the global-fusion dance beat (obviously).

I guess what I’m trying to say here is only hard-line fans of Banco de Gaia are going to get much out of this release ; par for the course when it comes to remix albums anyway. If you’ve read this far, then you’re obviously a fan (or incredibly curious), so let me tell you what to expect from 10 Years: Remixed.

First, the familiar. Even here at TC, names such as Eat Static, Loop Guru, and HIA (The Higher Intelligence Agency) have crossed paths (er, mainly because of a certain reviewer’s affinity for a certain producer who’s been tied to them), and as such the groups bring their trademark sounds to the tracks they got to remix. HIA turns the obscure proto psy-dub gem Soufie into a clicky ambient-techno piece, Loop Guru ramp up the ethno-dub styling of Sakarya, and Eat Static gives Lai Lah the psy-trance business, but also throws in a bunch of other samples Marks has used in other tracks (I Love Baby Cheesy, Kuos, etc.).

Meanwhile, other psychedelic and dancehall dub mainstays like Temple Of Sound, Zion Train, Dreadzone, Asian Dub Foundation, Future Loop Foundation, and Transglobal Underground lend their hand, with various results. Some are quite the reworkings, such as Temple Of Sound turning Drunk As A Monk from a kind of prog-rock stomp into a brisk neurofunk excursion; or Dreadzone giving the incredibly somber vocal version of Glove Puppet some rhythmic spring (Jennifer Folker still sounds gloriously tragic though). On the other hand, not much is gained or lost in Future Loop Foundation adding dreamy Balearic tones to Celestine, while Zion Train seems at a loss as to what to do with Shanti, providing a brief and rather generic techno -dub tune in the process (honestly, though, would anyone be able to top Marks’ brilliant Black Mountain Mix?); and what exactly is going on in Obsidian? Transglobal Underground’s stomp-dub go at Amber is ace though.

Now, the obscure and unknowns. Well, 100th Monkey isn’t exactly obscure - it's long-time Banco collaborator Andy Guthrie - but certainly not a name you’ll immediately connect with. Since he’s been familiar with Marks’ work over the years, it’s unsurprising he gives Sunspot a great remix - and it’s also a mash-up with Qurna! Elsewhere on the CD, old school industrial group Perfume Tree - here known as Veloce - does a respectable deep-trance rub of Heliopolis, which rates around the Shanti remix in terms of usefulness. It’s the hopelessly obscure Carbomb that brings us the most ‘leftfield’ cut, turning Drippy into a kind of thrash-metal thing - has to be heard to be believed, even more so that it actually works!

*whew* That’s quite the eye-full for the hardcore Banco fan, I must admit, but given the eclecticism and seemingly random order of all these remixes, it could not be glossed over. Well, it could, but that’s not what we here at TC are about. Where am I going with this? Oh, right… 10 Years: Remixed. There’s a few quality remixes here - see below for which - but this CD’s mostly a ‘completists only’ deal. Although it’s interesting to hear different versions, it’s primarily going to be Banco fans that will appreciate them.

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2009. © All rights reserved.


ACE TRACKS:
Glove Puppet (Dreadzone Remix)
Amber (Transglobal Underground Remix)
Sunspot (100th Monkey + Mr. Noisy Return To Qurna Remix)

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