*total runtime: 25min
*ltd 200 tapes w.risograph OCards
*ltd 250 vinyl
Composed & Produced by Josiah Steinbrick
Stephen Black – Clarinet, Saxophone
Huw Evans – Guitar, Synthesizer
Josh Klinghoffer – Marimba, Synthesizer
Cate Le Bon – Piano, Vibraphone
Stella Mozgawa – Bass, Marimba, Percussion
Josiah Steinbrick – Vibraphone, Piano
1. Banana A
2. Banana B
3. Banana C
4. Banana D
Recorded by Samur Khouja at El Sereno
Assisted by Nathaniel Eras
Mixed by Matthew “Matthewdavid” McQueen & Josiah Steinbrick at Stones Throw Studios
Assisted by Jake Viator
Mastered by Samur Khouja at Seahorse Sound
“Banana B” contains elements from Part IV of Kolm Ballaadi Poistekoorile by Heino Jürisalu & Part I of Instrumentals Vol. II by Arthur Russell
Arrangements on A, B, & C by BANANA
Art Direction by Josiah Steinbrick
Image sourced from the archives of Michael Dumontier
The album itself was recorded live to reel to reel tape on March 29th 2016 to be aired as a special on dublab.com. This incarnation of the ensemble came together to serve as backing group for Cate Le Bon’s “Crab Day” promotional tour as well as the opening act. We performed in Brussels, Paris, Istanbul, Cardiff, London, Los Angeles, and New York City. BANANA was a new experience for us. The sound of musicians I feel very connected to playing freely around composed pieces under my direction – exploring themes and theories of naturalism and modalism through repetition. For those in search of a bath, a rinse, a departure, or an expansion. Hopefully exotic, hopefully pleasant.
“BANANA adds bright notes of fruit to what exploratory trumpeter Jon Hassell once called the “coffee-coloured classical music of the future.” Composer Josiah Steinbrick works in the best tradition of the so-called Fourth World repertory bequeathed to us by YMO vets Haruomi Hosono and Ryuchi Sakamoto, gay musical polymath Lou Harrison, surfing shape-shifter Mike Cooper, 80s cassette weirdos Rimarimba, spiritual jazz guru and Sun Ra alum Kelan Phil Cochran, and the entire Nonesuch Explorer series of vinyl records, not to mention Hassell himself. In dialogue with and in some cases outdoing those precursors, BANANA brings non-western modalities into imaginative proximity with the hypnotic, structural avant minimalism we have come to associate with Cage, Conrad, Young, and Reich. Encircled by the polyrhythmic mallet patterns and echoing reverberations committed to tape here, one is reminded of how much Cage and co. copped from the near and far East, not that anyone’s complaining. To bring another New York-based kindred spirit into the conversation, BANANA “LIVE” feels like Arthur Russell’s “First Thought, Best Thought” recorded in an echoey Unitarian Church in Java, lovingly documented in hand-drawn field doodles by someone the likes of anthropologist Mic Taussig. The worlds—the imaginative geographies—of BANANA are held in tension like multiple exposures on a roll of film, and indeed the sextet’s profoundly cinematic sounds would ably update the already impossibly cool soundtracks for ethnographic psychedelic films the likes of Bruce Conner’s “Looking for Mushrooms” or Phill Niblock’s “The Movement of Working People.” Performing live, the band donned identical woven mohair hats suggesting agricultural work in the global South, one of many ways in which BANANA upends and submits to scrutiny the conventional North American chic for the “exotic.” BANANA “LIVE” is about the respect of bandmates for each other’s improvisatory wherewithal, and, by extension, the respect we all must have for the earth and for each other under this new political dark cloud. To this end, there is a mini-parable embedded in Hassell’s album “Dream Theory in Malaya” that is instructive. Hassell famously became enamored with the renegade anthropologist Kilton Stewart, who in the 1930s traveled the highlands of Malaya (now Malaysia) in search of vernacular musics recording and celebrating the nightly dreams of the Senoi tribe. Songs and dances were composed in order to make sense of children’s nightmares and visions, and these songs were shared with neighboring tribes as tokens of good faith, mutual concern, and respect. It is a lesson BANANA has learned well.”
– Ben Graves
“I get deja vu when I’m tired. My teeth are truly radiant. Take the Aspergers out of the gun, and go to Artichoke Joe’s for a haircut, a mind cut, Long cut.
Now, what do you have? Fine, but what do you need? Not much? Yes, correct. Unfortunately, the skies are adroit with pollen, but how allergic are you? The sky has hands. Does your mucus have a degree? A graduate? Or can it grapple like a strong gorilla. A silver lining on the back of the throat of a beast. Fight, or swim. You’ve been given a lifestyle testimony , you’ve given it to yourself. It is your masters thesis. Shake the protein with what god has given you. You will get better when you do. We are of the age now to appreciate the musical. Write me a poem underwater. Haven’t I tried this before? My exhaustion had opened a portal to a future…or a sitcom. Haven’t I watched this before? First it was children that contacted the dead, now it’s bloody nose paranormal telepathy, next it will be organic free range elderlies that drink acai berry and bake asiago infused bread. The smell is like opium. Walk, or crawl for it. I know I don’t have much memory left, and clouds are so thin and delicate. Where do I put my head? In the ear of a gorilla? On the back of a nice snake? On a pillow made from a clear bag with a goldfish in it? Or a bed made with the finest hollywood ? East side production. I can , have, and will paint to this music.
A tempest in a teapot, a tempest in our minds. A light that brings us forward, or clears all weather in time.
Slip on the banana, blur the math, panorama. Art that makes you want to make art is all I’ve ever wanted to know.”
– Tim Presley