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Michel Banabila — Translations
(Bandcamp Tapu Records P9112020TR, 2020, DL)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2021-03-19

Translations Cover art

In 2020 Dutch pianist and keyboardist Jeroen van Vliet arranged four of Dutch sound artist Michel Banabila’s compositions for piano. Michel was so impressed with the results that he decided to create a compilation album, Translations, a small collection of different versions of some of his compositions. The result is a set of 12 tracks, including three original tracks composed specifically for Translations. Van Vliet’s piano versions of “Secunde” and “Ears Tell Us Where We Are in Space” kick off the album with beautiful introspective minimal sustained piano. Next is jazz pianist Jasper Soffers’ melodic and ambient piano arrangement of “Lapidarium.” Then we return to Van Vliet’s gentle ambient piano versions of “Dragonfly” and “Tirza Scene.” Now the album changes musical direction with cellist Maarten Vos’ CJD remix of “Seconde.” This version is very different than van Vliet’s. It lasts seven minutes longer and has an eerie disturbing quality provided by Vos’ cello and Banabila’s mechanical background soundscape. Next is a different version of “Dragonfly” where Banabila brought together jazz violinist Oene van Geel, bass clarinetist Gareth Davis, cellist Peter Hollo, and double bassist Gulli Gudmundson to create a delicate fluttering instrumental with sawing strings and clarinet. The guitar version of “Ears Tell Us Where We Are in Space” features Dutch musician Anton Goudsmit’s jazzy interpretation that swells over time, conjuring comparisons to Pat Metheny. Next is another cover of “Lapidarium” by violinist Anne Bakker, Banabila, Goudsmit, and expert oud player Mehmet Polat. This version is a strong amalgam of world music and jazz fusion. Then we encounter another rearrangement of “Tirza Scene” featuring Dutch woodwind musician Mete Erkar and Banabila. Very different from the other version and it has a slight jazzy vibe due to the saxophone. Then Banabila includes a third version of “Seconde,” subtitled Ambient Mix with van Geel, Banabila, Ilya Ziblat Shay, and Kiempe de Jong for four minutes of white noise, harsh electronics, and dissonant violin to create a mood piece that is not what I think of as ambient. And the album closes with a third version of “Dragonfly,” this time a synth version with just Banabila. This final version is quiet, amorphous, and ambient with piano and synths. Overall a varied and interesting take on different arrangements of the same compositions.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): Michel Banabila

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