Saturday, 3 September 2011

2 new guest appearances by Peter Banks

We don't hear enough from Peter Banks. It's been a while since we've had a significant project from him. Plans for a tour with Ambrosia were, unfortunately, put on indefinite hold as Banks has some health problems. However, this year has seen two releases with guest appearances by Banks, so good vibes to Pete and let me tell you about Muso & Proud and Electronic Church Muzik.

The more recent was the dB-Infusion album, Muso & Proud. Banks provides a tasteful solo on one track, "Midnight Blues", although I think the track as a whole is surpassed by several others on this great fusion album. The band is headed by Daniel Berdichevsky and also features keyboardist Gonzalo Carrera, formerly of Karnataka. Also guesting on the album is Soft Machine's John Etheridge, of whom Banks himself is a huge fan. I saw both Banks and Etheridge guesting live with the band a few years ago, and Pete was full of praise for Etheridge's work. Further guests include Hugh McDowell, formerly of ELO and who's been working with Asia and iCon, and Steve Hackett's brother John on flute. (John appears on Steve's Beyond the Shrouded Horizon, due later this month and with Chris Squire guesting.) Muso & Proud can be ordered online here and can also heard there on streaming audio.

You may have seen a lot of Jon Anderson interviews recently. Well, that's because he's got a new promoter, Billy James, who's been doing a great job organising them. Billy's also now doing promo for CIRCA: and Jeff Berlin. You may remember the name in connection with Peter Banks because Billy co-wrote Pete's autobiography "Beyond & Before". Well, Billy also performs himself under the name Ant-Bee and, earlier in the year, released Electronic Church Muzik, with Banks appearing on two pieces. Billy kindly sent me a copy of the album and I can recommend it.

There are plenty of further guests on the album, including Daevid Allen and Jan Akkerman (formerly of Focus and appeared on The Two Sides of Peter Banks back in 1973), but most notable are the multiple former members of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, namely Napoleon Murphy Brock, Don Preston, Bunk & Buzz Gardner, James 'Motorhead' Sherwood and the late Jimmy Carl Black. Zappa is a good starting point for describing this album: Ant-Bee has a similar mix of avant-garde music and humour, but what makes him distinct is a collage approach with multiple short tracks glueing together the album and connecting together longer pieces (Banks used a not dissimilar approach on his Can I Play You Something? release). The many guests are often given free reign on these longer tracks, as is the case with "Endless Journey", a spacey piece of around 6 minutes by Banks recalling his 1990s solo work to an extent. His other appearance is "The Guff", a short piece also with Gong's Gilli Smyth.

Not connected, but another album I'd like to mention while I'm here is The Winter Tree, the debut album from this new band that emerged out of Magus. Andrew Laitres of the band sent me a copy of the album and it's a nice affair, comparable to Camel in style, perhaps.

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