Maarten Vos & Michel Banabila ~ Home

Home is the eclectic score to a performance by Conny Janssen Danst “about people trying to find one’s place in the world and with each other”.  Michel Banabila’s electronics and Maarten Vos’ cello are the key players, but in the loping 14-minute “Secunde (CJD Remix”), a host of other instruments find their ground as well.  The mixture of styles and diverse array of dancers lead one to ask a question neglected by the liner notes:  What kind of music makes you feel at home?

An initial answer involves not genre, but nationality.  The set opens with the traditional Ukrainian song “Oj, Na Gori Suhyj Dub” (“Oh, On the Mountain Dry Oak”), which sparks connection with land and people.  The layered vocals of Maryana Golovchenko add nuance to the question.  We recognize – or seem to recognize – comfort.  Without understanding the words, the listener feels welcomed, safe, at home.  The gentle cello only underlines the feeling.  And while the album will return to this feeling, again and again, it will also strike out in different directions, mirroring the experience of travel, expanding its horizons before returning to its point of origin, changed.

The title track travels from ambience to tribalism via subtle shifts in percussion, touching upon world music without defining the part of the world it is from.  Few would say, “Oh sure, that’s Dutch music.” And this is part of the point ~ modern music tends to draw from multiple cultures, to the extent that it can be embraced by multiple cultures, even those not involved in its genesis.

“Shivers” is the piece that makes me feel most at home.  The piece teeters between wistfulness and sadness, with a hint of unease; more than enough emotion to burst its boundaries and work its way into the heart.  It sounds similar to music I already adore, but different enough to seem new, especially in its faint, closing drones.  But others may react differently.  Those involved in modern dance may feel connected to the gurgling bass of “Crack”, the stomping beats of “Crowds (Big Data Poetry Mix)”, or the swift dramatic surges of “Rosy Fingered Dawn”.  Introverts may prefer the isolated tones of the lonely “Nebulae” or the warping abstractions of “Fuzzy Clarity”.  Synth fans will be drawn to the patiently percolating 12-minute “The Bataleur”.  On the surface, the album seems to invite listeners to choose favorites.  But below the surface, it invites listeners to branch out into different genres, to ask, “What makes this song valuable?”  From this point, one might branch out to different viewpoints, different cultures, different countries.  In the modern era, so much talk revolves around preserving a sense of home through exclusion that we forget the better way: broadening our horizons to the point that we feel at home not only in our houses, but as citizens of our shared planet.  (Richard Allen)

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