Album Reviews

Michel Banabila: Early Works (Bureau B)

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Michel Banabila
Early Works: Things Popping Up From The Past
Bureau B

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.

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