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Peter Banks - Instinct CD (album) cover

INSTINCT

Peter Banks

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.21 | 11 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Moogtron III
3 stars Peter Banks is the original guitar player of Yes, and it's regrettable that he never found commercial success. He left Yes before they became big, and the reasons are even today a bit unclear. Didn't Banks develop himself fast enough within Yes, or was it because of leadership conflicts that he had to leave? However the case, after the guitar genius Steve Howe took over Banks' role within Yes, and after Banks couldn't reach a wide audience with his records with Flash and as a solo artist, he was somewhat forgotten, except by some true Yes aficionados.

This album, proves the world wrong, though, because this all instrumental album clearly shows that Peter Banks is an excellent guitar player, a very good composer, and a good keyboard player and drum(machine program)mer on top of it.

Looking at the cover art, with the paintings that look as if they were from Van Gogh, Dali e.a., the suggestion comes up that this is a true guitar player's album, an album with a lot of guitar soloing.

And to be honest, this is true if you look at the way the songs of the album are built up. There is quite some variety on the album, but most of the songs have the same construction, or skeleton, so to say: there is a steady drum pattern, slow, fast, swinging, or whatever the mood of the song is. On top of the rhythm there is a warm synth layer like an ocean wave. And finally, on top of it all, it's Banks soloing on his guitars, like riding the crest of his own (keyboard) waves. Oh yes, and as an ornament: between the songs, and sometimes within the songs, there are some sound samples which sound like they were taken from a somewhat distorted transistor radio, where a few gentlemen are stating some funny, absurd, oneliners like: "I wouldn't, and neither would my daughter" or: "Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't seen nothing yet."

As it comes to Banks' guitar playing: didn't Bill Bruford once say that Peter Banks had some Wes Montgomery in himself, and lots of Pete Townshend? That was, and is, a good analysis. Yet, Peter Banks widened his palette since his Yes days. Banks has obviously grown as an artist. One can, for instance, also hear David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton back in his music. Bruford's statement is still true, though, especially as it comes to the Pete Townshend part. Peter Banks has quite a bit of aggressiveness in his playing. Sometimes even when he's into a more laid back kind of soloing, you often feel his restless energy under the surface.

As it comes to Banks' compositions: Banks is very skilled, but why oh why, Peter Banks, didn't you take the time in making all of the compositions work? The first four tracks are quite sensational, and after those tracks, boredom steps in, until at the end, the last two tracks are bringing back the adrenaline in the blood stream of the listener.

As I said: most of the tracks have a uniform construction. There isn't much complexity on the album. Banks is a very skilled composer, though, because with some simple means (rhythm track, simple synth sounds, different guitars) he can make a really varied album. If he in fact used a drum computer, than he's a genius in programming it.

The album sounds quite 1990's modern, but with a great sound. If you like keyboard layers with guitar soloing on top of it, this might be a very interesting album for you. It reminds me of Allan Holdsworth solo albums, where Holdsworth often does the same: soloing over ever changing synth layers, with a lot of chord changes. Banks is much less complex than Holdsworth though. Where Holdsworth has a lot of jazz and a bit of rock in him, with Banks it's the opposite. And to be very honest: Banks can play very fast, but he's not a real virtuoso, but I get the impression that he doesn't care to be one, but is more into keeping things simple but emotional, like for instance David Gilmour and Andy Latimer. And Banks is certainly an emotional player.

And now it's time to put some songs into the limelight: album opener "No Place Like Home" has no rhythm pattern, but for the rest it has the same construction as the other tracks: a keyboard layer with a guitar solo on top. This is a slow track with Wes Montgomery - like jazzy playing, and it is an atmospheric album opener.

"All Points South" has a slow rhythm track, reminding of a camel walking with a slow pace through the desert. At this point I owe something to ProgArchives - fellow reviewer Evolver. Normally I don't look to other peoples' reviews before I write my own, because I don't want to be influenced by other peoples' opinions. Still, this time my eye fell on something Evolver said in his review: that the album reminded him somewhat of Jeff Beck's "Guitar Shop". I agree with him on that and I find the comparison especially clear in this track.

"Fogbound" is a short but incredibly beautiful track: Banks has some simple, but wonderful chord changes on his warm sounding synths, with some wailing guitar themes on top. It's so breathtakingly beautiful that it almost makes me cry.

"Sticky Wicket" is also a magnificent track. Starting with a drum pattern, augmented by swelling synths and some simple but soulful guitar soloing, the track is most notable for it's wonderful, exciting chord changes throughout the song. Also, Banks has some synth effects which heighten the atmosphere: really, the guy is quite skilled in composing songs and sounds.

After the first four tracks, the level of compositions drops. "Shortcomings" is a long, loud, nervous sounding track with some over the top wild soloing by Banks. After that song, the boredom really steps in: I wouldn't say that the next four tracks are bad, but they are a bit mediocre to say the least, and it drags down the level of the album as a whole. Also you get the feeling that you've heard it all before, earlier on the album.

At the end of the album there are two songs that are like a wake up call. It doesn't restore the excitement of the first four tracks, though. The damage has been done and that is really a pity.

"Dominating Factor" is really entertaining, not in the least because one hears back Banks most famous riff: from Yes' Astral Traveller. The riff is not completely the same, but it certainly reminds you of it. For the rest: the song has some very good chord changes. Like the rest of the album: simple but effective. Finally, "Never The Same" is a slow song, also with atmospheric keyboards and guitars.

Looking back over the album as a whole: what's the overall impression? On the first four tracks Banks is sensational, using simple beautiful chord changes and skilled instrumental performances, with an eye for detail, to baffle the listener. The last two tracks are also good. Banks should have made more work of the rest of the album, though, and probably should have limited himself to a 40 - minutes album, focusing on the real good compositions that he has. On his best parts Banks deserves four stars, on his most boring parts he deserves two stars. I let simple mathematics do the rest for my rating.

But... when Banks shines, he really shines!

Moogtron III | 3/5 |

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