Mike G @ Ambient Music Guide
This is inspired - lots of fresh and panoramic sounds here. Strong writing, some rockin grooves, lush beatless glides, lovely wordless vocals and a profoundly cosmic undercurrent throughout. This is Banco's strongest album of new material in 15 years. Thanks for sticking with it Toby. :)
Favorite track: The Princess and the Sky Goat.
An enchanting journey through nine responses to love, Banco de Gaia’s ninth studio album arrives at a time when the world needs it more than many of us may realise. Featuring special guest artists, from Pink Floyd’s Dick Parry, Zero 7’s Sophie Barker, The The’s James Eller and No-Man’s Tim Bowness, The 9th of Nine Hearts is a celebration of the spark in all of us: the concept of love itself. Fusing ambient, psychedelia, art rock and acid house, each track evolves naturally into the next, with love the starting point to them all.
The introspective Nine Hearts opens the album: a synth-fused jewel, with hints of Floyd-ian psychedelia, it features dreamy vocals from art rock vocalist Tim Bowness (No-Man). Inspired by the love in friendship, it merges into second track, Burn the Witch, whose edgy, prog rock beats clash with bold drum rolls and wild, orchestral ambience.
Other highlights include the first single Le Foucauld, an electronic jamboree of joyous Middle Eastern samples and the lingering, melancholic beauty of ambient track And So We Dream of Futures Lost. The Princess and The Sky Goat, the ninth track on the album, opens with samples of coastal birds reworked into glittering, eerie textures. Dick Parry’s saxophone drifts across a mythical soundscape of oceanic calm, the backdrop to an opiate-chilled blend of bruised basslines and rugged riffs.
Old time Banco de Gaia fans and contemporary dance-lovers alike will adore 91 – a dark, old school techno anthem, featuring samples lifted from an early Banco cassette-release. A thundering, bittersweet dancefloor filler, 91 is a throwback to the acid house movement and the idealism of the 60’s, and speaks to anyone dreaming of how to mend a fragmented world. Sophie Barker, who also wrote the lyrics, shines: her haunting voice, full of longing, calls to us all to keep love alive – not just on the dance floor, but throughout our lives. Poignant parting tracks, soundscape My Midnight Sun and vignette This Heart inspire hope and possibility.
This is more than just an album: it’s a piercing lament, a call to arms, a musical pilgrimage, a celebration of love itself. It leaves you with a sense of renewal and a glowing reminder of how music, the universal language, is keeping our dreams alive. The 9th of Nine Hearts is a timeless homage to love, from a legendary artist and something we will all keep returning to. It’s definitely Banco de Gaia at his best.
released October 7, 2016
All tracks written by T Marks except 91, written by T Marks and S Barker
Vocals: Tim Bowness
Burn the Witch
Drums: Ted Duggan
No Hablo Italiano
Bass: James Eller
Vocals: Sophie Barker
The Princess and the Sky Goat
Saxophone: Dick Parry
Bass: James Eller
Produced by Toby Marks
Mastered by John Dent at Loud Mastering
Artwork by Dave Whitehead
As ever, a huge thank you to the usual suspects – Sandy, Dave Whitehead, Jasper Edwards, Ross Fitzsimons, John Dent; recent additions to the team – Dan Silver, Andrew Richardson, Faber Music Publishing; my live band and crew – Ted Duggan, James Eller, Patrick Dunn, Casey Howell, Bruce Turner and the occasional Andy Guthrie, Jamie Hickey and Ben Dobson; and all the wonderful guest musicians. You have all made this album far more than I could have on my own.