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Peter Banks - Self-Contained CD (album) cover


Peter Banks


Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.10 | 10 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars Peter Banks, the original guitarist for Yes, has put out over seventy-five minutes of instrumental work. I've heard much better, but certainly worse too. Other than some sizzling guitar passages, none of the music stands out; a lot of it is so bland. The music is largely so-so, and great parts are few and far between, unfortunately. While the album tries to be diverse, it comes off as severely uneven. The random voices interjected into the album are more of a distraction and sometimes downright ugly: I do wonder how a guy asked to leave Yes some twenty-five years before this album was released could still be so bitter. By the way, the liner notes to this album are some of the best I've ever read.

"Radio Foreplay" This is simply the sound of a radio dial changing stations.

"Endless Journey" Beautiful atmospheric music eventually serves as the backdrop to a woman's voice claiming that she could not live without music.

"More Foreplay" Here we get the first taste of what Peter Banks is capable of as a guitarist.

"Massive Trouser Clearance" The first proper musical piece of the album, it blends world music sounds with straightforward drumming and wailing guitar. Most of the time it sounds like dance music from the early 1990s. Other times Banks lets it rip, sometimes staying close to the rest of the music, and sometimes going crazy on the fret board. The spoken word at the very end is nothing short of a low blow: "Some critics argue that Yes's music was pretentious and empty. Yeah, that's valid; I would go along with that as well."

"Lost Days" Quiet clean guitars fill two-and-a-half minutes. It's very pretty, but nothing particularly innovative or interesting.

"Away Days" This is very much muzak, the sort of thing one would expect to hear in an elevator or while on hold on the telephone.

"Two Sides" This is another short atmospheric track, much in the vein of "Endless Journey." It serves as an interlude between "Away Days" and the title piece.

"Self-Contained" More quiet guitar follows. Sometimes the various runs are tinged with jazz, but for the most part, it sounds like it could be background music for a sex scene in a late-night softcore porn.

"Clues" "Clues" contains thundering bass (almost mixed way too loud) and wacky clean guitar lines. The electric guitar part is refined, and makes this one of the better moments on the album. Halfway through, however, there's some wild parts (like seemingly randomly placed keyboard hits and guitar parts). Fortunately, the piece gets back to business with more excellent guitar soloing, some of which could almost rival the likes of Vai or Satriani.

"The Three Realms" A blend of natural-sounding and electronic noises starts this one and remains all the way through. Banks doesn't really begin playing until almost three minutes in, though, but when he does, it's a beautifully crafted chorused electric guitar part that features both long notes and fast, jazzy runs. One long, distorted guitar note (bent down by a whammy bar) signals the conclusion of the piece.

"Tell Me When" Here's more muzak, only this time it's very similar to 1980s Phil Collins. There are some fascinating guitar passages, but the whole thing gets stale very quickly.

"Funkin' Profundity" This sounds like the theme from the TV show In Living Color that was on back in the early 1990s. It's a poor attempt at being "hip" I guess, and the random noises that punctuate the music are awful.

"It's All Greek to Me: The Great Dionysia" The first part of a sprawling, eight-track instrumental epic that spans over twenty-eight minutes, "It's All Greek to Me" starts with some interesting chords strummed heavily on a springy-sounding guitar. The electric guitar over it, though, is grating and something I don't care to listen to. Male vocalizations at the end lead into the next segment.

"It's All Greek to Me: Erotokritos" The second part is much more pleasant than the first, featuring some Mediterranean instrumentation.

"It's All Greek to Me: Less Talk" Several aspects of this part make me think of "Someday" by Sugar Ray.

"It's All Greek to Me: Oriental Bent" As implied by the titled, Banks decides to use some oriental-sounding scales, which makes the piece sound rather contrived. Overall, it's a bit like the music on one of the "Dynasty Warriors" video games.

"It's All Greek to Me: In an Idyll Momentum" After the headache that was the previous track, the soft piano and quiet electric guitar are a welcome relief.

"It's All Greek to Me: Unnatural History" On the shortest piece of the medley, it sounds like Banks is setting things up for the next section.

"It's All Greek to Me: Greekspeak" But the next section has essentially nothing to do with what came before it. It's jazz music punctuated by out-of-place orchestra hits. Several of his runs sound very similar to Howe's solo performance on "Perpetual Change" from Yessongs.

"It's All Greek to Me: The Great Stifado" The final part keeps the orchestra hits and has unbearably distorted drums. There's a lot of electric guitar work here, but nothing unlike what has come before. It has a 1980's dance feel, and really wasn't the best way to end the suite, which had a few good moments.

"Thinking of You" The final piece is a sentimental and quiet one. It's a weak way to end an album, but after all the racket that came before, it's a welcome end.

Epignosis | 2/5 |


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