ELECTROAGE: Spherics (Electroage's favourite - March 2002)
Michel Banabila is proving to be quite prolific, with his third album in less than 3 years; 'Spherics' follows the critically-acclaimed 'VoizNoiz 1 and II - Urban Soundscapes' releases. This time out, he leaves the avant-jazz and world-beat electronica behind for a rather ambient session, exploring the spatial qualities of sound. Utilising turn-tables, samplers, guitar, violin and drones, Spherics is a captivating album. 'A Strong Sense Of Urgency' sets things in motion with a repetitive reverberation effect, filled out by skittering drums, tolling drones and oscillating howls and scintillating electronic cries. The result is a trance-inducing epic, drawing the listener into a metallic sphere of noise and ambience before gradually fading out via gradual slowing-down into the pseudo-jazz funk of 'Tic Tac'. Again taking this slowly, the track unfolds with exotic atmospherics and lush drones resulting in a sublime trance-induction. Banabila takes his time on Spherics, letting each track slowly open and move through it's paces to a logical conclusion, with no rush or urgency.
It's almost as though Banabila is guiding the music, letting it explore on it's own, rather than being the creator of the music. As such, each track is in excess of six minutes, often running over the eleven-minute mark. 'Suma 3 White Mix' is a gorgeous ambient piece; quiet cymbal brushes keep time underneath an exhilaratingly airy and slow-moving construct of sound, which explores it's space with cautious movements, while slight flute and chilled jazz-like vocal samples join the cymbal brushes. It's counter part, 'Suma 4 Blue Mix', is a coolly minimal piece with soundtrack-like textures and subtle hollow percussion, slight piano chords and wind instruments adding to the expansive sense of space and atmosphere with wonderous results. 'Science Freak' takes an orchestral approach, with strings playing aside repeating pulses and drones, and 'Worm-Jazz' adopts a dark jazz texture with rattling drums and crooning trumpets below the surface. Indeed, the track worms it's way slowly around the rhythms and sounds, like a great space-faring organism. And lastly, 'Primitve Lab' closes the album with great quietude; drones, languidly percolating percussion and starkly minimal electronic details swirl together with as much randomness as careful control. Spherics is perfectly titled, as each track moves within a great cavern of space, curving and spiraling with exploratory torpidity. What Banabila has created here is truly gorgeous and a great achievement in the study of sound structures. It's also compelling and engaging to a great degree, taking the listener into a new world of spaces and sounds. Spherics could very well be one of the best albums of 2002.