VITAL WEEKLY 463 : Hilarious expedition

A very mixed bag this time from the dutch ambient master Michel Banabila, which proves that he is still very capable of a surprise. Maybe the variety can be explained by the fact that this double cd brings together work Banabila composed for six different occasions: four theatre productions and two films. But also Banabila seems to be in the mood for experiment. Not that he leaves the ambient-path, but he is trying hard to expand the universum of his approach of ambient music. Thirdly for the projects included here, Banabila worked with a even greater variety of musicians. Jazz and impro musicians from the Rotterdam scene as well as some more well known musicians like Ernst Reijeseger and Eric Vloeimans. Other musicians have a background in pop. His old mate Yasar Saka with whom he made two ethnic flavoured ambient cds in the past is also involved. All these aspects help to constitute the wide spectrum of Banabila's music. That Banabila is open for jazz influencens we already know since his third "Voiznoiz" album where he cooperated with trumpetter Eric Vloeimans. The critics let us know that this was a very succesfull collaboration. Maybe it's because of this succes that Banabila continues here to work with jazz and impro musicians. Again with Eric Vloeimans but also with more unorthodox musicians from the Rotterdam impro-scene. In melting together ambient and jazz his music is sometimes comparable to that of M.F.Cote. He is not afraid for extremes. He even combines ambient music with completely free improvised parts that are of a totally different order. For example, in a track like "Plein (1)" we hear a Rota-like filmtune, but the free improvised interludes give it a special twist. Of course we hear on this double the trip hop - with or without ethnic touch - as we know from earlier recordings. But other pieces offer a different meal: assemblages of fieldrecordings, often with the human voice in the center. "Mobiles" is a very funny piece based around the sounds of mobiles. The musical form perfectly illustrates our hasty and never ending culture of communication. "Phonema (2)" is a curious attempt of dadaistic soundpoetry, something one does not expect from Banabila. "Bouwtekening" ends with an orchestral climax that is never heard before in the work of Banabila. "Crime scene" starts with a long percussive intro that brings Organum to my mind. In "Salar's Dream" the violinplaying of Salar Asid from Iraq introduces some explicit Eastern influences. "Bottle Groove" is a very bluesy piece, etc., etc. The crosscultural "Hilarious Expedition" proves once more that Banabila is able to integrate great many influences and ideas in his concept of ambient music with great subtlety and souplesse. Through his multifaced talent he is able to introduce new challenges within the realms of comfort.