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Banks, Peter: Harmony In Diversity - The Complete Recordings

Between the years of 2004 and 2007 the main musical concern of Peter Banks - Yes founder member and also the guitar presence in the likes of Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, The Syn, Empire, Flash and Blodwyn Pig - was on outfit under the name of Harmony In Diversity. Sadly, some six years later Banks would pass away, but with 2018 being the fifth anniversary of that sad event and also the 50th year of the illustrious band he helped create, so Esoteric/Cherry Red have seen fit to gather together the six discs worth of material Banks, Nick Cottam (bass), Andrew Booker (drums) and Dave Speight (drums) recorded under the Harmony In Diversity guise.

Split into the six sessions that spawned the recordings, the claim made is that this set is the first time the Harmony In Diversity work has been given a ‘mainstream’ release (whatever that means?) and that it contains every recording the band created. Hence we get Struggles Discontinued (2005-2006 - Banks, Cottam, Booker), What Is This? (2006 - Banks, Booker), Trying (2005 - Banks, Cottam, Booker), Try Again (2005 - Banks, Cottam, Booker), Hitting The Fans (Live) (2005-2006 - Banks, Cottam, Booker) and Spontaneous Creation (2006-2007 - Banks, Cottam, Speight), with Booker producing them all bar the last, which Cottam handled. All meaning that we have been handed roughly five and a half hours of music that, in truth, feels like it could have come from the same session. The mood, tone, ethos and ideals being strongly linked throughout and finding Banks with the freedom to truly express himself in an impromptu manner; what with these sessions being off the cuff and free flowing. For fans this is a delight, the material sounding fresh yet, as Banks’ work tended to, still somehow vintage and authentic. While the liner notes by a candid Booker, that run throughout the 36 page booklet, go into great detail about the inner workings of these recordings as well as the band and how it all came to a rather sputtering stop.

Musically there are some treasures to unearth, but, being honest, unless you are a follower of this deep, avant-garde fare, then much of it can leave you rather cold and confused. Sample however, the drive and harmony of the set’s opening piece “The Number Of The Beat” (Struggles...), or deep meander of the wistful “Procyon B”(What...) and the depth and clarity of what you’ll occasionally find can also be clear. Highlights sprout throughout and are too numerous to list, but from Trying, the deep grungey dirt of “Sods At Odds” grips tight, while from Try Again, the bass heavy but guitar sliced “Some Things Are Better Left Upside Down” deserves repeat visits. Don’t expect any crowd noise on the live Hitting The Fans, but sparks do fly, “Industrial Power Washing” a howl and challenge to anyone in the vicinity, while “Gallopsiding” is a varied highlight. Leaving the thunderous “Wizz Bang Crash” and intentionally lopsided “Now Now” from Spontaneous… to impress in completely different styles.

There’s a lot to digest on The Complete Recordings, and I have to say that it’s a set that I’ve had to leave and come back to on numerous occasions for fear of it all blending into one. However, for fans of Banks’ work, or those curious enough to want to peer into his world, it will certainly hold some interest.


Track Listing
DISC ONE: STRUGGLES DISCONTINUED
1. THE NUMBER OF THE BEAT
2. SWING IT
3. ON THE SIXTH ATTEMPT THEY TROD ON IT
4. INVERSIBLE FLAW
5. LAST RUN FOR THE EMPIRE
6. HARMOGENY A
7. DREGS ADDICTION
8. HARMOGENY B
9. EVERYTHING ENDS IN NOTHING

DISC TWO: WHAT IS THIS?
1. LOTS AND LOTS OF DISJOINT DOTS
2. PLENTY TO HEAR IN ORBIT
3. EACH TO THEIR OWN DEVICES
4. PROCYON B

DISC THREE: TRYING
1. NO HARM
2. AFTER YOU
3. MIND THE DOORS
4. SWAYED BY NOTHING
5. THE KLINCHER
6. SODS AT ODDS

DISC FOUR: TRY AGAIN
1. PRELUSION
2. SOME THINGS ARE BEST LEFT UPSIDE DOWN
3. EVERYTHING IS GREEN
4. CRACKING
5. ALMIGHTY DOG
6. TRY AGAIN
7. OVER

DISC FIVE: HITTING THE FANS (LIVE)
1. TROPICAL MOON
2. OUT OF THE GARAGE
3. FORECASTING AN INDIAN SUMMER
4. PROCYON A
5. INDUSTRIAL POWDER WASHING
6. THE CONSEQUENCE OF GOING NUTS
7. DYSTOPIAN WORKSHOP
8. GALLOPSIDING
9. NOT OVER YET

DISC SIX: SPONTANEOUS CREATION
1. BUDANOPEST
2. ONE NIGHT IN BUDAPEST
3. WIZZ BANG CRASH
4. SITTING ON THE BUFFALO
5. BRUNO
6. FLOATING WORLD
7. NOW NOW
8. DO IT NOW
9. WHERE’S JAMIE?
10. BOING
11. LOOKING FORWARD

Added: February 16th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Harmony In Diversity @ Cherry Red
Hits: 225
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Banks, Peter: Harmony In Diversity - The Complete Recordings
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2019-02-16 12:38:27
My Score:

Talk about getting the most for your music buck...Harmony in Diversity-The Complete Recordings, the last project that founding member of Yes, Peter Banks, was working with prior to his death, is a treasure trove of material, six discs in fact, all pointing once again to the truth of the matter, that Banks was a hell of a guitarist and is sadly missed. Although with a set like this, 5 plus hours and over 40 tracks, the bloat factor can easily creep in, but there's a wealth of quality material to be found here, Banks lending his exceptional guitar parts alongside bassist Nick Cottam and drummer Andrew Booker. Though 2005's What Is This?, which is basically the duo of Banks & Booker, can try the patience a tad with its Frippian soundscapes, there's much to savor throughout this box set, including the fiery Struggles Discontinued (2005-2006), Trying (2005), the live Hitting the Fans (2005-2006), and the often times raucous Spontaneous Creation (2006-2007), much of which is permeated with Banks' sizzling & slashing avant-garde guitar licks and textures. Nothing commercial sounding to be found here, but that's perfectly fine, this collection squarely aimed at fans of the late guitarist and anyone into avant-garde rock & jazz music that demands a more patient ear.



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