September 19, 2021

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Album Evaluate: Devendra Banhart and Noah Georgeson – Refuge

3 min read
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Album Review: Devendra Banhart and Noah Georgeson – Refuge

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Fantastic for refuge, and little else

Wellbeing food outlets, Birkenstocks and incense are just a couple factors Devendra Banhart refers to whilst talking about his latest task, Refuge, made with the assistance of producer and longtime mate Noah Georgeson. These are ideal factors of reference for an album as hippie-ish as this one—one can virtually scent the patchouli emanating from their speakers. 

The largest inspiration guiding Refuge is the new-age new music of the 1980s, a appreciate-it-or-loathe-it subculture that Banhart and Georgeson both equally grew up close to. New-age exists for purely purposeful needs, intended to induce relaxation in listeners and from time to time to aid meditation. A large amount of folks glance down on it—even Georgeson himself did at one point. “Coming from an academically demanding environment, I turned down this variety of new music simply because it’s very simple, gestural songs,” he reported. “It took me a though to come to a location the place I was Ok with that.”

Thus, Refuge exists mostly to foster a sense of ease and comfort for the listener, and it succeeds in undertaking so with the aid of some hazy synths, sensitive, fingerpicked guitars and swish flutes. But most likely most telling is the duo’s use of silence, like on “A Cat” and the cavernous “Three Gates,” both of those of which aspect a appreciable sum of house. But they aren’t over having factors a step more by tossing in the occasional melody. The strongest one particular is performed by a flute on “Peloponnese Lament,” and the future very best one particular is presented by an icy string segment on “For Em.” No matter whether you will need to focus on some thing or, in Banhart’s words and phrases, you just want to “heighten the mood and the environment,” this document will help get the position finished.

But if individuals are searching for a venture that rewards energetic listening, Refuge falls a small brief. The album is not entirely devoid of bolder, much more notice-grabbing pieces, but there just aren’t plenty of to bolster the whole album. A single can not definitely knock Banhart and Georgeson for this—after all, this collaboration is explicitly intended for peace and practically nothing much more. Nonetheless, people today are left with the feeling that probably they could’ve struck a tighter balance concerning the ignorable and the fascinating. 

On a positive observe, the number of highlight cuts undoubtedly stand out. “Into Clouds” is just one particular very good example, with its uncharacteristically chilly, blippy synth pulse and its watery electrical guitar. But the ideal track is the disorienting, just about menacing “Asura Cave.” This keep track of completely switches up the album’s sonic palette, crafted largely on cryptic subject recordings, Buddhist chants and distorted, quivering vocal samples. It is all a little bit unsettling, but it retains an air of serene with breezy synth lines and naturalist sounds. 

With this album, Banhart and Georgeson set out to soothe, and soothe it does. But that’s about it. It is not automatically a lousy thing—this kind of songs is not by some means illegitimate simply just mainly because it serves a utilitarian objective. But those people listeners who like their ambient new music with some edge may well want to go it up, save for a several tracks. Refuge is very good for, effectively, refuge, and very little else. 

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