Devendra Banhart: Ape in Pink Marble (Nonesuch) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, December 15th, 2019  

Devendra Banhart

Ape in Pink Marble

Nonesuch

Sep 19, 2016 Issue #58 - The Protest Issue Bookmark and Share


Devendra Banhart is an artist. Recently, the music for which he is widely recognized has been demarcated by periods of his lesser known visual art, where open hearted interaction with forms and figures may be shaping his recordings. Ape in Pink Marble, which sounds like it could be the title of a painting, comes after the making of an art book collecting Banhart's works of more than a decade. Who knows which songs floating through his art studio during the past couple of years spoke to the exquisite vibrations of this particular audile trip.

In spirit, this is a rephrasing of Brazilian Folk and Bossa Nova, which actually sees Banhart in his most natural state yet. Past excursions have been aligned with Caetano Veloso and now he wanders farther down the Brazilian seaside, closer to pastel quiet of Joao Gilberto. Vocally, Banhart delivers observation secretly, as if to someone laying on the beach blanket next to his, and still with a wit that makes you giggle. A study in understatement and delicate imprint, Ape in Pink Marble hones in on the essence of melodic note. These are the kinds of songs that don't announce their arrival to a room but rather twirl in the corner waiting to be noticed. In shuffles between Tropicalismo and lo-fi disco, there are shades of earlier Ariel Pink production character, while Banhart's voice stays right around the zone of Ira Kaplan and Stuart Murdoch in hushed moods. Consecutive crawlers "Linda" and "Lucky" let on to the impression of Lou Reed and in turn to Banhart's broad reverence of other musicians past and present.

Consistency with Banhart's last recording, 2013's Mala, is assured by the return of long standing production partner Noah Georgeson and Josiah Steinbrick, forming the same trio that hand crafted that album. Yet, there's nothing as fabricated as what's on Mala. Ape in Pink Marble carries the feeling that much of it came about through happenstance, from early morning or late night fiddling with gentle melody, and was fortunate to be captured.

There's an oneness with Banhart and his music on this album, an effortless grace signaling arrival in a stage of less conflict and fewer flights of fancy. And there's a low-hanging hammock vibe throughout that it doesn't stand up from, which is alright because that's just where you want it to stay. The pearly surfaces of lulled out drum machine, the feathering and fluttering of minimal keystrokes, the unassuming entry of elegant strings, it all speaks to artistry absorbed and fashioned, keen on finding magic in the subtleties. (www.devendrabanhart.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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