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Banks, Peter: The Self-Contained Trilogy

With a two disc retrospective/rarities set also being released at the same time, The Self-Contained Trilogy decides instead to gather together three of founding Yes man Peter Banks’ 1990s solo albums into one impressive three disc box. With Instinct (1994), Self-Contained (1995) and Reduction (1997) all becoming increasingly difficult to source, this one stop reissue is well timed and with it coming five years after the sad passing of the man who recorded them, it also offers a welcome opportunity to pay tribute to this underrated musician.

As I alluded to in my review of Be Well, Be Safe, Be Lucky, I can’t lay claim to being a Peter Banks expert, in fact I’d be closer to qualifying for novice status. With that in mind, the best of collection should have been the richest seam of learning for me and yet it’s been this three album set that has drawn me back for more. As you’d expect from a man who helped create the Yes album and that band’s Time And A Word release, the guitar playing and poise shown by Banks is impressive. However, these albums were not victims of some retrospective thinking and hence, in my ignorance, it was the vibrancy and non-vintage feel of this trilogy that first made an impact on me. Banks sounded determined not to trade on past glories and instead finds an individual outlook that marks these three releases out as actual albums, but also as linked pieces of work; little traits appearing throughout, such as spoken word (some coming from films and news, some seemingly created especially for the albums) interjecting with an almost commentary like feel to what’s going on.

Instinct is well named, the natural flow of the likes of “Sticky Wicket” hard to resist, while “Swamp Report” bubbles and pops with interesting guitar asides. Unfortunately one of these albums’ less ingratiating traits also appears here; Banks often looking to funk things up, but with the chosen weapons to do so being parping keyboards and bulging bass, much though I’ve tried to stave off the notion, it’s difficult not to be reminded of the theme tune to Seinfeld in these moments… Short joining pieces are also a feature but more so on the next year’s Self-Contained album, where the longer pieces of instrumental works are fused together by more abstract shorter moments, sewing the album together neatly and making for unusual, cohesively structured pieces. One of these neat introductions, “Radio Foreplay”, opens proceedings and sets the tone in relaxed manner with our protagonist being found twiddling the radio dials and exclaiming his displeasure until he settles on the smooth meander of “Endless Journey”. “More Foreplay” quite literally follows on, leaving the darting guitar work of “Massive Trouser Clearance” to be the first track proper, and so it continues. That may all appear rather daft in explanation but in reality all this neatly constructed interplay keeps you thoroughly dialled in and of the three albums, Self-Contained is the one I find myself going back to most often.

Not that Reduction is poor by comparison and with its opener “Diminuendo In Bloom” being another similarly welcoming piece, the feel that these three albums all belong together gets ever stronger as you live with them. Again eclecticism is strongly in evidence, the pastoral “Fade To Blue” quite beautiful as it floats by, while “Consolation” is one of those inconsequential pieces that actually makes a strong impact; the poise at the heart of this spartan set-play allowing it to completely engage. At the other end of the scale, “Dirty Little Secret” is all electro-beats and dirty riffs, while “Pirate’s Pleasure” is almost latin jazz gone punk.

Through the brevity of his tenure in the fledgling band, Peter Banks’ formative period in Yes often finds him the forgotten man of their legacy. However, with his solo work, the multi-instrumentalist may have created one of the most idiosyncratic collections of work that any of the band’s extended family can lay claim. In truth not everything comes off as you’d quite hope, but as Instinct, Self-Contained and Reduction prove, Peter Banks was a a one off talent who knew how to write engaging music and craft intricate and involving albums.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!


Track Listing
DISC ONE: INSTINCT
1. NO PLACE HOME
2. ALL POINTS SOUTH
3. FOGBOUND
4. STICKY WICKET
5. SHORTCOMINGS
6. CODE BLUE
7. ANGELS
8. ANIMA MUNDI
9. SWAMP REPORT
10. INSTINCTIVE BEHAVOUR
11. DOMINATING FACTOR
12. NEVER THE SAME


DISC TWO: SELF-CONTAINED
1. RADIO FOREPLAY
2. ENDLESS JOURNEY
3. MORE FOREPLAY
4. MASSIVE TROUSER CLEARANCE
5. LOST DAYS
6. AWAY DAYS
7. TWO-RIDES
8. SELF-CONTAINED
9. CLUES
10. THE THREE REALMS
11. TELL ME WHEN
12. FUNKIN’ PROFUNDITY
13. IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME ��" THE GREAT DIONYSIA
14. IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME ��" EROTOKRITOS
15. IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME ��" LESS TALK
16. IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME ��" ORIENTAL BENT
17. IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME ��" IN AN IDYLL MOMENT
18. IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME ��" UNNATURAL HISTORY
19. IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME ��" GREEKSPEAK
20. IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME ��" THE GREAT STIFADO
21. THINKING OF YOU


DISC THREE: REDUCTION
1. DIMINUENDO IN BLOOM
2. TONE DOWN
3. THE AGE OF DISTORTION
4. FADE TO BLUE
5. FATHAT
6. AS NIGHT FALLS…
7. CONSOLATION IN ISOLATION
8. DIRTY LITTLE SECRET
9. AS EVER
10. PIRATE’S PLEASURE
11. ROSA NOVA

Added: July 7th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: The Self-Contained Trilogy at Cherry Red
Hits: 242
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Banks, Peter: The Self-Contained Trilogy
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-07-07 14:00:57
My Score:

Though he really spent a short time as founding lead guitarist in Yes, and his vastly underrated band Flash also disappeared in somewhat of a 'flash', the late Peter Banks was a vastly talented musician whose skills are on display throughout this sprawling 3CD set that chronicles three of his 1990's solo releases. If you look past some of the slightly cheesy programmed dance/funk rhythms & synths, there are actually some pretty inventive arrangements happening here, not to mention stellar guitar work from Mr Banks. Instinct contains some really strong tunes, such as "All Points South", "Sticky Wickets", and the shredderific "Shortcomings", each chock full of Banks' acrobatic guitar work, which at times has an almost Allan Holdsworth-ian flair mixed with a touch of Ronnie Montrose. Considering that the '90s was home to plenty instrumental guitar outings by players such as Vai, Satriani, and Johnson, it's a real shame that these solid outings from Peter Banks never got the credit they deserved. The wonderful acoustic & electric strains of "Angels" are a perfect example of a piece that could have caught on with a 'wider' audience who love guitar based music. Plus you have tunes like "Swamp Report" and "Dominating Factor", which blend smooth jazz with Frank Zappa inspired weirdness. Fascinating stuff for sure.

Self-Contained explores the zaniness even further, as well as the pop/dance/funk rhythms, but Banks' soaring guitar work of course is exceptional. "Massive Trouser Clearance", "Clues", "Tell Me When", and "Funkin' Profundity" are some of the highlights of this solid album, which really only suffers from having too many tracks, a good many which are short musical interludes or sound effects which really serve no purpose. Condensed a bit would have made a much more cohesive record. Once again though, the comparisons to Allan Holdsworth, and even Adrian Belew, can be heard on the wild "It's All Greek to Me (The Great Dionysia)", another standout track here.

Easily the weakest of the three albums contained here, Reduction still has its merits, such as the ambient electronica meets freak-out guitar of "Toned Down", the funky jazz-metal of "The Age of Distortion", the gorgeous acoustic number "Fade to Blue", the groove laden smooth jazz piece "Fathat", and the screaming guitar over World beats on the upbeat "Dirty Little Secret". Toss in a few more acoustic smooth jazz numbers and you have somewhat of an uneven album but enjoyable nonetheless.

Three Peter Banks albums, three reasons to celebrate this highly underrated guitar player.



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