Banco de Gaia

Banco de Gaia Biography

Toby Marks under the pseudonym Banco De Gaia has spent most of his career focusing on issues that he finds bewildering by expressing his thoughts and observations through music. The electronic musings of an 'abstract techno/dance' composer are not traditionally associated with an impassioned political polemic or works of merit and depth. However, his critically acclaimed 1995 album Last Train To Lhasa was written to highlight the plight of the Tibetan people and successfully mixed electronica with a braver vision, although Banco de Gaia himself has lost count of the number of times people have told him that 'dance and politics' just don't mix. There are no 'themes' in dance music, just beats and hooks etc.

Fast-forward to 2006 and over a decade of questioning and consistently brilliant albums under the bridge later and here we are facing the same joyfully unsettling creature. Farewell Ferengistan captures the spirit and mood of Last Train To Lhasa but this time instead of being concerned with the remote tribes of Shangri-la, Banco de Gaia's concerns are much closer to home: what are we doing to ourselves? Where is our materialism taking us, would it not be wise to consider our position?

Farewell Ferengistan is an album about humanity's global predicament. After a decade and a half of music making, it is great to see that Banco de Gaia remains as brave, experimental and willfully on his own path as ever. Toby Marks is someone who has influenced many musicians. In the U.S. particularly and across Europe, Banco de Gaia is respected for the innovator that he is for making records of consistent beauty and quality.

The music on Farewell Ferengistan is the mixture of exotic and urbane we have come to expect from Banco de Gaia. Opening with the down-tempo title track, featuring Indian vocals and haunting treated piano, Toby then nearly heads into rock territory with "Ynys Elen" until the Indonesian flutes remind us whose record this is. "Chingiz" presents an uptempo ska-fuelled workout followed by a slightly slower but no less insistent "Kara Kum," with its repeating guitar motif and overwhelming bhangra percussion. The heart of the album is "The Harmonious G8." The 8 improvised vocals here are overlayed and entwined in such a way that surely it can't be a purely accidental beauty which results.

The tone of Farewell Ferengistan turns mellow and reflective. "Saturn Return" takes the listener on a widescreen space shuttle launch to the outer planets in the company of Steve Reich and Terry Riley, then deposits us on the set of a spaghetti western version of 2001-esque "Flow My Tears, The Android Wept" where a lonesome computer sings a 17th century ballad to a flamenco dub accompaniment. The mood remains ambient as an English pastoral landscape merges with Himalayan melodies in"White Man's Burden" until submitting to the relentless march of progress and percussion. The hint of menace brings listeners back down to earth in time to be washed clean by the sublime vocal harmonies and timeless truth of "We All Know The Truth (You Have God)," the perfect exit music for this movie.

Banco de Gaia Bio from Discogs

Producer from Leamington Spa, UK.

Banco De Gaia began as a solo project of Toby Marks producing a variety of dance and chill-out music often featuring tribal samples. After several tape-only albums, Banco was signed to Planet Dog where he received much wider recognition. Banco expanded into a band in 1997 and later set up the Disco Gecko label.

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