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Devendra Banhart (from the album Flying Wig on Mexican Summer Records) (by Lee Zimmerman)
An unabashedly eccentric artist and auteur, Devendra Banhart has never been one to shy away from pursuing his own muse, no matter where it might lead. him. Once hailed as one of the beacons of the so-called Psych Folk / Nu-Folk movement, his music tends to eschew any predetermined formula as far as his demonstrative designs are concerned. Not surprisingly perhaps, Banhart’s remarkable new album, Flying Wig, begins on an ominous note, with the initial entry “Feeling” fully engulfed in eerie, ethereal ambiance and a melody that’s as haunting as it is harrowing. It’s an auspicious way to introduce an album, but then again Barnhart’s music is nothing if not mesmerizing, and this song — and those that follow — prove that point.
While accessibility may seem an elusive additive, the beautiful ballads “Fireflies”, “Sirens”, and the title track share a shimmering haze that helps amplify both the atmosphere and allure through a radiant inner glow. Here again, Banhart’s clearly content to bask in his own cerebral circumstance. Nevertheless, “Charger” offers a momentary respite from those deeper depths. Its hushed harmonies are both solemn and celestial in equal measure, giving pause despite the otherwise obtuse arrangements.
On the other hand, when he picks up the tempo with “Nun”, one can’t be quite sure who he’s referring to, and yet the percolating pacing becomes quite compelling nonetheless. “Sight Seer” and “Twin” similarly embrace some darker designs, and given their didactic delivery, they seem to suggest some rather ominous intents. For its part, “May” drifts by on a wobbly rhythm, a sound that suggests a last, lingering encounter after too much time spent circulating at the bar. So too, closing track “The Party” adds a hint of regret and remorse, all sadder circumstance within a final, fleeting farewell.
Even with its shifts in tone and tempo, Flying Wig makes for a decidedly compelling collection, a fascinating musical continuum that affirms the fact Devendra Banhart remains one of the most intelligent and innovative artists of the current era. Ultimately then, this Flying Wig makes for an elevated encounter. (by Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Devendra Banhart from AMAZON
For more information, please visit the Devendra Banhart website
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