Banks Bailey - Entrances
This is the second solo release on Quiet World from Arizonan field-recordist Banks following on from his 'Vibrations from the Holocene' album from a few years back. He has also collaborated with Ian on several releases - 'A Brief Sojourn' & 'A Slow Feather Falls' and on the 'Summerland' album (which also features Darren Tate).
This time out Banks brings his own compositional skills to play as he augments his richly textured field recordings with drones and tones sourced from bells, bowls and gongs.
Entrances is Banks Bailey’s second release on Quiet World following on from 2008’s Vibrations from the Holocene. Whereas the previous recording was largely devoted to natural sounds, this new offering features a mix of field recordings from Bailey’s native Arizona and his original tone and drone music. The result is 35 continuous minutes of atmospheric and haunting sounds.
Far from being mere background sounds, this is a CD that deserves a clear mind and undivided attention, which it rewards by introducing and enhancing the sounds of nature to create a spellbinding and transformative experience.
Whilst familiar, when placed this context, these sounds of nature take on an otherworldly vibe; no more so than with the sound hail peppering what sound like metal, which, at one point, gets louder and louder until it echoes in like gunfire. The addition of Bailey’s music provides an ambient undercurrent to the sounds of cascading rain, buzzing insects and twittering birds.
Bailey’s own music also adds an ominous vibe to the random and spontaneous natural sounds; building in intensity throughout like the soundtrack to a sparse and realistic horror film whose true object of terror has yet to be revealed. This is especially true when visitors’ voices are heard in the distance. Whilst jarring to hear human interlopers muscling in on the harmony of nature, the effect is to highlight how we are all at the mercy of the elements and how, in the natural world, we are the ones who don’t belong.
Overall, Entrances manages to create evocative and striking musical images that take on a life of their own when amplified inside the mind of the listener. Listening to the CD feels like a journey into the unknown, where nature takes on a whole new and unsettling persona; with the familiar morphing into the strange.
It’s also wonderfully refreshing to hear a piece of work that does not need to rely on technical wizardry or powerhouse sounds to get its point across. This is simply nature in its purest form; enhanced by an artist who is clearly in tune with his surroundings.
When I first visited Arizona a number of years ago, I was naive. I figured I’d be able to pick up some great music in Phoenix for my drive to the Grand Canyon: something evocative and distinctly desert in feel. I was wrong. Despite much searching, the best I could find was an album of Native American chants augmented by looped rain recordings. Suffice it to say that this is the album I was looking for, but didn’t find. Entrances is authentic in feel, evocative in nature, and instinctive in execution. I’m sorry I didn’t have it back then, but I’m glad to have it now.
The global market has caused music to lose its former regional flavor. Wherever one travels today, one hears the same sounds: the same chart hits, the same oldies. But what if things were different? What if we could visit various places and hear more sounds specific to those regions, not only in concert halls, but in shopping centers and on the radio? Wouldn’t travel then be richer, fuller, a more unique experience?
When one hears the church bells of Entrance, one thinks of conquistadors and the weight of human history. One imagines a lonely Sunday morning, a single person at the rope, tugging and hoping for parishioners to make their way across the dust and heat. The early hour bee and birdsong is true to time and place, not a canned set of sound sources. A family conversation hints at an afternoon drive. The sound of distant sirens indicates an emergency elsewhere. Howling wind and splattering rain emerge swiftly and pass just as fast: the quick-moving storms that cool the Arizona heat for minutes at a time. This crisp section is one of the album’s finest. As the storm subsides, Bailey and his friend Nanoo play abstract melodies on wooden flutes. Singing bowls reverberate. Insects and amphibians return at the close, reclaiming their territory.
As one who has been to Arizona, I can attest that it sounds like the state: not the commercialized, mainstream Arizona, but the natural Arizona ~ the red rocks of Sedona, the blast heat of Tempe, the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Entrances captures the wide, expansive spaces, the sense of fullness in emptiness that characterizes the spaces between the settlements. It should be considered a state treasure and sold at every outpost along the way.
Cosa fa realmente uno sciamano?
Non solo: lo sciamano trascende dal corpo ed entra nell’aldilà, in altri mondi non specifici di morte ma altri stadi della percezione; lo aiutano animali totemici, lo aiutano suoni, situazioni che si crea per generare l’autoipnosi o meglio, il viaggio.
Banks Bailey in questa mono-traccia utilizza molti suoni captati dalla Natura: acqua, torrenti forse ma soprattutto gli uccelli, nel loro quotidiano esistere, cinguettando tra rami e fronde, canneti e prati, in riva ai ruscelli, in volo, posati e mimetizzati, ricchi di coraggio per mostrare i propri colori…
Psicopompi, animale che aiutano nel viaggio sciamanico, sì perché volano nelle dimensioni, totem aerei per sciamani e curatori, musici come nel caso del nostro Banks Bailey, britannico e non a caso, legato alla Natura della ricca, stupenda, campagna inglese.
Quiet World è la sua casa ottimale non trovate?
Già tre anni fa la label condotta da Ian Holloway (altro grande protagonista di sonorità ambient/soundscape) lo vedeva al debutto con “Vibrations From The Holocene”, cui seguirono altri lavori anche assieme al label-coach Ian, due musicisti silenti dediti alla registrazione del suono ‘libero’ da inserire nella minimale strumentazione di studio, una sorta di ‘en plein air musique’.
In “Entrances” incontrerete spesso suoni liquidi e riverberanti di ciotole tibetane suonate con l’apposito pestello, un suono pieno e profondo, metallico, più chiuso e delicato del gong, definitivo, troppo definitivo per questo tipo di sonorità.
E le incontrerete tra canti d’uccello e pioggia, forte pioggia che scroscia e purifica oppure assieme al flauto, sottile, strumento di Pan quindi della natura, una traccia singola per meditare e, fidatevi, lo stimolo a chiudere gli occhi, lasciarsi andare, immaginare il landscape evocato ed immergersi totalmente sarà naturale ed immediato, mezz’ora altrove, la vostra mezz’ora altrove…
Come nota di cronaca i suoni naturali provengono dall’Arizona, una nota per fornirvi altri indizi nel vostro viaggio, anche se non sciamanico ma sicuramente pronto a portarvi nella dimensione del relax, di uno stadio immaginario non difficile da raggiungere.
Banks Bailey has had more releases on Quiet World, mostly in collaboration with Ian Holloway. Here he uses, in a thirty-six minute piece, sounds he recorded in the wilds of Arizona along with tibetan bowl, wood flutes and processing. Not entirely your typical work of field recordings with processing, although the backbone of the music is formed by that notion. The addition of the bowl and flute however give the music something cerebral, almost like a buddhist thing, or perhaps that's what we are lead to believe. Like a religious ceremony performed out in the open. Sometimes the treatments and field recordings seem to take over, like the microphone is pointing away from the ceremony, or a heavy thunder storm is passing. But birds and sunshine return and we come to the conclusion of the ceremony with louder bells and what seems some chanting. I am not sure what to make of this. Perhaps the whole zen/buddhist/religious aspect is not too well spend on me and these kind of connotations put me off.