Sonicnet Music News
The roots of Banco De Gaia's ethno-techno fusion sound extend back to the British space-rock band Hawkwind.
"I saw them on television in 1971," said Toby Marks, the man behind Banco De Gaia, whose sixth album, "Igizeh," has just been released. "I thought they were really weird, and decided being a musician was a lot more interesting than being an accountant."
While Marks finally shared a stage with his early heroes in 1997, their spacey influence has been evident throughout his recording career. Emerging from England's rave/techno scene, Marks, 36, like fellow global explorers Transglobal Underground and Loop Guru, has always incorporated world-music samples into his sound, alongside the beats and ambient textures.
His inner prog-rocker still emerges at times. The Pink Floyd-sounding "Fake It Till You Make It", Marks insisted, "was a bit of fun for myself. I wanted to do something retro and take it to an extreme."
Extremes appeal to Marks. For "Gizeh", he recorded in Egypt's Great Pyramid. He'd first been "blown away" by the structure 10 years before. But this time, he admitted, "it wasn't as big a deal as I expected." The air conditioning added to the structure as a conservation measure caused constant rumbling, so while the acoustics are still stunning, "it's lost a lot of power."
Marks, who began his musical life as a guitarist in rock and folk bands, has always used Middle Eastern musical samples on his albums. "Igizeh" adds a pervasive Indian influence, with sitars and tablas poking through the mix. Although Marks feared including Indian music would be "too obvious," he explained that it was simply the material he had on hand.
Marks has also included vocals for the first time on a reworked version of "Glove Puppet" that first appeared in instrumental form on his last disc, "The Magical Sounds Of Banco De Gaia."
"Originally it was a song," Marks explained. "I tried
a couple of singers, and it wasn't quite right, so I stuck a short instrumental version on my last album. But I wanted to hear it done properly, and I found the right person."
That person was Jennifer Folker, who sings with the Portland band Dahlia. Folker also adds her voice to another track, "Obsidian."
With "Igizeh" complete, Marks isn't sure where he'll go next. One possibility is a stripped-down record consisting of "lots and beats and one synth." But, he said, laughing, "I can never write like that because I keep adding more and more, and it just ends up sounding like Banco De Gaia. Again."