Happy summer Brothers,
As I have stated before I have been struggling a little for inspiration recently for our albums. Todd Terje was a great album but it was new to me and I think that these albums should be something that we love and share. I had a number of new, well reviewed albums that I was considering but am glad that you directed me to something that I do actually love.
I have a long history with Mr. Banhart, Venezuelan-born, California singer-songwriter;
(For Guys sake) – a number of years ago I seperated from my then wife, found a little one bedroom flat that I paid for on top of my mortgage and horrible legal bills. I had no money, no TV but the most intimate time of my life with music. I had not before or since listened to so much music and in doing so discovered loads of artists that I still love now. Yes, this period has been romanticised in memory and therefore any music I loved then was loved through musical-rose tinted glasses … but I count Devendra as an artist that I really got to know during this time. Back then, he looked like an annoying hippie-cliche but I had no knowledge of this due to no TV no personal computer (10 years ago I think). He wrote mainly solo acoustic songs about odd things. 2 minute tracks that amused as much as they offered musically. 2 albums ‘Nino Rojo’ and ‘Rejoicing in the Hands’ mark this period and his prolific output.
It all went a bit down-hill into odd pastiche and silliness.
Much of this love of pastiche and silliness is on full display throughout Mala. However, the songs are strong and pull the listener through. For me the questions that you will need to answer before committing to liking this (or not) is (1) does it overcome a tag of ‘novelty’ (2) do you care enough about how he got to this album without the history with him that I have. We forgive artists we love for many errors and in doing so loose a frame of reference, the objectivity to truly critique.
I was going to have this as album of the month ages ago but held back because of the above but recently have listened to this album loads. Partly as I’ve driven 1000s of miles and partly due the weather. This is a great summer album.
It is, without doubt all over the shop, there is soft-shoe-shuffle, 50’s crooner, German-House pastiche all interlaced with his historically standard acoustic solo fare. For me what ties this together is Devendra’s charisma, humour and the fact that the songs are strong, regardless of their ‘genre’ and never out-stay their welcome.
Enjoy. Listen without prejudice. Play it a few times and it will dig in. I find it great driving music or general pottering music.