BANCO DE GAIA
Magical Sounds: 20th Anniversary Edition (1999, reissue on Disco Gecko)
Magical Sounds is the last of Toby Marks aka Banco de Gaia’s classic 90’s albums, ending a series of four groundbreaking and influential ethno-techno-trance-dub releases by which started with Maya (1994). This 20th anniversary release includes a handful of alt versions and new remixes but it’s the originals that keep me coming back. While Magical Sounds may not be the obvious choice for Banco De Gaia newcomers, I reckon it’s still the most fun. Chants and vocal samples are spread throughout, looped and chopped to sometimes comic effect on the energetic openers “I Remember Baby Cheesy” and “Harvey and the Old Ones”. Toby’s ear for an epic ambient dance tune has never been more in evidence than on “Touching The Void”, its rock-inflected breakbeats dressed in utterly gorgeous layers of soaring flutes and wordless Indian and Arabic vocals. To me, Banco’s distinctive appeal has always in the way he blends proggy rock flavours – particularly drum breaks – with the electronic textures and the sampling techniques of dance music and the studio techniques of dub. While the album’s production is showing some signs of age (the 90’s!), his quirky, eclectic ideas and command of harmony shine on brightly.
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