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Peter Banks's Harmony in Diversity

The Complete Recordings

Review by Gary Hill

You might be familiar with Peter Banks from his time in the early incarnation of Yes or perhaps from his work in Flash. This was an improvisational band that he played with in the early parts of the 21st Century. A six-CD set, this represents the bulk of the music they  recorded. All instrumental, this has a lot of fusion along with space rock, jam band sound and more built into it. As one might guess, something like this is a bit challenging to review track by track, but that was required here, so I've done it. It's much easier to just enjoy.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1: Struggles Discontinued
              
The Number of the Beat

Fast paced, chirpy guitar that's trademark Banks opens this. The cut shifts outward from there into a cool groove that has a lot of fusion built into it. There is some fiery guitar soloing further down the musical road.

Swing It
A bit more mainstream prog based, this is a classy groove. The rocking movement near the end is all class, too.
On the Sixth Attempt They Trod on It
Coming in slower and more experimental, this makes me think of King Crimson just a bit for some reason. There is a lot of fusion in the mix here, too. There is a cool balance between the louder movements and more dropped back trippy ones on this. The cut is nearly ten-minutes long, and all that space is used to good measure. I really dig the hard rocking jam around the half-way mark. The guitar really gets into some edgy territory as this thing stomps forward.
Inversible Flaw
There is some real funk built into this cut. It is another that has some elements that make me think of King Crimson. It also has plenty of fusion. The guitar work is purely on fire.
Last Run for the Empire
Fusion with funk and more King Crimson strangeness is the order of business here. This energized and has some killer grooves and jamming.
Harmogeny A
Trippy aesthetics are on display here. I really love the guitar soloing. This piece has a real space rock, psychedelic, edge to it. It covers a decent amount of territory in a rather freeform arrangement.
Dregs Addiction
This comes in with more of a pure fusion element and drives onward from there. This is quire a journey and bold exploration. It is a very freeform sort of piece that makes its way across a lot of territory. A section after that six-minute mark that is nearly a guitar solo has some world music and yet also channels Jimi Hendrix a bit. It is noisy in a rather wonderful way.
Harmogeny B
The drumming on this is somewhat busy at times, but in a good way. The jamming takes on real space rock elements with more of that fusion texture at its heart. At a little over two-and-a-half minutes, this is the shortest piece on this first disc.
Everything Ends in Nothing
There is almost a dark edge to this number. It has some sections that seem to reach upward toward heaven as it builds. I'm again reminded of King Crimson to a large degree at times.
Disc 2: What Is This?
       
Lots and Lots of Disjoint Dots

A rather sparse arrangement that calls to mind King Crimson opens this. The cut grows outward from there as it continues, remaining tentative and a bit odd.  After the three-minute mark this is threatening to work into some seriously rocking zones. The pace is greatly increased and it tends toward driving, but still restrained. Then it shifts to more of a spacey element to continue. Some keyboards take control for a time as this continues to evolve. As it drops back to mellower textures they bring some world music into the mix. This cut is the epic of the second disc, running more than 17-minutes, but nothing here is shorter than ten-minutes. By around the fifteen-minute mark this thing has become a full on jazz jam. There is a short nod to "Hall of the Mountain King" as this continues.

Plenty to Hear in Orbit
Percussion brings this into being. The track gradually builds out from there with a healthy helping of space music on the menu. This is a fairly sedate number, but it's also exploratory and a little dangerous. It's very freeform and could be called "strange." I'd also consider it quite cool, though. They really take this through some unusual soundscapes as it continues. There is some really freaky stuff built into this thing at times.
Each to Their Own Devices
Another trippy kind of freeform piece, this is quite experimental. It has a lot of electronic textures and really creates some freaky fusion. It isn't a huge change from the rest on this disc, but it's tasty.
Procyon B
There are some moments on this that feel a bit funky, but in a real trippy kind of way. It's another classy fusion jam that really covers a lot of territory. The percussive elements are intriguing along this ride. Banks puts in some decidedly expressive guitar soloing after the eight-minute mark on this thing.
Disc 3:Trying
             
No Harm

The sound of waves coming gently ashore begins this. The track rises up slowly and tentatively from there with a mellow fusion vibe. As this piece continues to develop it takes on definite Grateful Dead like textures. Parts of the later jamming feel a lot like early Pink Floyd, too. This is the intersection of fusion, psychedelia and space rock.

After You
This feels almost like it comes out of the previous cut. Spacey, psychedelic trippiness is on display as it gradually builds. It becomes quite a cool jam that has plenty of fusion along with space rock elements at its core. It even drifts toward some blues rock stuff further down the road. It eventually drops back down to segue toward the next piece.
Mind the Doors
The sounds of waves bring this into being. The music starts to fade upward with a rocking jam already underway. This drives with a killer fast paced jam that's a powerhouse. It eventually gets a lot trippier and more freeform before an abrupt turn ends it.
Swayed By Nothing
This is a cool fusion based number that has some intriguing musical elements at play. At a little over three-minutes of music, this is the shortest cut on this third disc.
The Klincher
There is a real trippy space music meets fusion vibe built into this thing. The piece never rises up a lot, staying quite mellow from start to finish.
Sods at Odds
This comes in with more trippy spacey stuff, but after the two minute mark it powers out to some killer blues rock based jamming. It's energized and rocking. The piece starts to take on a bit of a driving, King Crimson styled musical texture after a time.
Disc 4: Try Again
            
Prelusion

Spacey music is the order of business as this fourth disc begins. By around two-minutes in (roughly half-way through) the cut powers out to a more rocking jam for a time. It eventually drops back down from there to continue, though.

Some Things Are Best Left Upside Down
More trippy space music, there is an echoey kind of vibe to this thing. As it kicks into high gear later, I really dig the bass work. The guitar fires across the top of that in some killer fusion meets psychedelic jamming.
Everything Is Green
Speaking of trippy and echoey, that definitely applies on this number. It has a cool sort of vibe to it and really works well. This thing gets into some rocking, space based jamming texture as it continues to evolve.
Cracking
Trippy music is again on the menu here. This is more of a fusion based thing, though, although a very mellow fusion jam in this early section. It powers up more into some seriously fiery stuff at times, leaning more toward jammy space rock at points.
Almighty Dog
This is a lot more of a rocking tune. It's energized and has a killer fusion meets surf rock kind of groove to a lot of it. This is the longest piece on this particular CD weighing in at over 13-minutes of music. This thing gets pretty crazed as it builds and grows. There is a bit of a Djam Karet kind of vibe here at times as this drives onward.
Try Again
Coming in rather mellow and trippy, this quickly moves out to some seriously funk fusion zones. It's packed with energy and some cool grooves. This gets seriously intense as it grows forward. Some parts of it make me think of a funky Pink Floyd. Other parts call to mind Parliament Funkadelic just a bit. The whole thing is crazed and cool, though.
Over
This is no huge change, but it's a cool, mellower groove that works well.
Disc 5: Hitting the Fans (Live)
 
Tropical Moon
Guitar harmonics bring this into being, and the cut gradually grows out from there with a spacey fusion vibe.
Out of the Garage
I really love some of the bass work on this high energy jam. It has a lot of fusion built into it. There is some scorching hot guitar work, too.
Forecasting An Indian Summer
They work through some cool jam music on this piece. It's set in the familiar musical zone, but brings new flavors.
Procyon A
There is some killer guitar rocking sound on this number. The piece has a cool groove in this live telling. Later in the track it gets almost a bit of a reggae thing for a time before shifting to more stripped back texture as the backdrop for more guitar exploration.
Industrial Powder Washing
In a lot of ways this makes me think of King Crimson. It has a sparse kind of free form backdrop with some killer guitar jamming. The bass gets downright funky at times, and there are definite fusion links here.
The Consequence of Going Nuts
I love the cool guitar jamming that begins this. It has a lot of classical elements at play. As the piece approaches the one-minute mark it shifts toward more of a cool fusion rock style. It rocks out with style and passion from there. Cool freeform Crimsonian jamming ensues as this continues driving onward.
Dystopian Workshop
The percussive elements here really do have the pounding kind of vibe of some kind of workshop. The track drives onward with a Crimsonian bass element and some abstract sounds above that. This is atmospheric, but also tactile. It's fairly mellow, but also has a lot of activity. It rises up further as it grows. It gets pretty trippy and artistic.
Gallopsiding
Coming in with a cool kind of groove, this is an intriguing cut that has some great bass groove at the start. I definitely make out a King Crimson sort of element at play here. This piece runs more than 11-minutes, and they put that time to good use, taking it through all kinds of shifts and changes. This thing turns out to some intense, driving jamming further down the musical road.
Not Over Yet
This comes in kind of tentatively and grows out gradually from there. Yet, as sparse as it is there is a real drama to it. Then as it approaches the minute-and-a-half mark there is a shift to a more jazz sort of sound in a mellower jam. This cut works through a number of changes in a very freeform kind of jam from there. It turns toward some serious space music after the four-and-a-half-minute mark. That section ends the piece.
Disc 6: Spontaneous Creation
             
Budanopest

After a short ambient bit, echoey, trippy guitar textures bring this in with dramatic, space-age texture. Those holds the cut for a while, but around the two-minute mark it fires out into a seriously fierce hard rocking jam. It works its way through with a more electronic fusion flavor before it's done.

One Night in Budapest
Coming in mellower, there are some classical guitar things on display at times, but also jazzy ones. The cut grows outward gradually into more of a pure fusion meets prog arrangement. Some vibes sound brings more pure jazz on the closing section of the track.
Wizz Bang Crash
The rather chaotic opening here really does seem to fit the title. This works through a number of changes, turning to a serious driving, hard rocking number further down the road.
Sitting on the Buffalo
Weird freeform jamming opens this with a jazz meets King Crimson kind of vibe. It is just guitar, though. reminding me a lot of some of Robert Fripp's weirder explorations for quite a while. After the two minute mark it turns toward noisier hard rocking zones as it continues. The guitar is still the central element by that point, but other instruments have joined. This number continues to evolve from there.
Bruno
Dreamy musical textures open this cut, and it works outward from there. It's a mellower one that's less crazed than some of the rest. It has a lot of space music in the mix, but also gets into some fusion territory. It gets harder rocking and more intense as it continues building.
Floating World
A bit more of a straight-line, this jam climbs upward with style and passion. It's a cool tune that has some great guitar work built into it.
Now Now
There are some cool guitar explorations here. At times this lands closer to psychedelia. At others points it's more fusion oriented. It's a killer exploration that has a great balance between mellower and more rocking stuff. There are some particularly intense moments with all kinds of layers of guitar over the top of one another.
Do It Now
Trippy kinds of mellower texture bring this into being with a psychedelic space kind of vibe. It really does into some freeform spacey texture that has hints of King Crimson in some ways. It does get a bit noisier and more rocking near the end of the cut.
Where's Jamie?
Coming in rather jazzy, there is still plenty of spacey texture here. There is a definite funk angle to this thing.
Boing
Fast paced freeform weirdness is on the agenda here, and it only gets stranger from there in the echoey kind of arrangement. This really does have a boingy, rubbery kind of sound to it. That gives way to a trippy space textures around the minute-and-a-half mark. This evolves into a more jazzy jam as it continues, but there are definitely still space music elements at play.
Looking Forward
There is a real psychedelia element to this number. The guitar is the prime element on display here, but there are other instruments in the mix. This moves forward developing as one of the more melodic and constant pieces of the set. In some ways this seems the most closely tied to the stuff Banks did in Yes.

 

 
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