Mark Banning

Journey To The Light

The gradations evoke fellow new-ager Laraaji. The feel is a simplicity of intent, side-chained to a robustness of changeability. Underneath this lies Mark Banning’s stellar use of musicianship. It grabs you more pronounced on each swell and undulation, perfectly fermenting feminine touch amidst its ethereal emotions.

New age music has always had a relationship with reconcilliation, but never has it sounded more heartfelt than on music like Mark Banning’s two tracks here for the rosy Students Of Decay imprint. Guitar delay is exquisitely done, evoking sensations of wonder and excitement. “A Sea Of Glass” takes us to a cove by the sea to hear the ocean waves wash over A major chords and substantial bass hum. The waves soften to a background murmur – and although the preconditioning is nice, the experience when dovetailed with “Everlasting Moments” works much better like this.

The poignancy of the pieces never hurts the ears or lies obtusely to you. Everything is very innocent and playful until you’re starry eyed like a young pup looking at a potential owner. Banning avoids swooning cheesemakerdom with a resistance to 80s sounding reverbed guitar. The guitar plucking as the engine powers is reconfigured like a leaking tank of oil painting faces in the sand. The picture isn’t crude for this – more a blank canvas of night sky colour.

The sort of polarising of ambient with new age, as if the two couldn’t co-exist together simply isn’t a reality for the majority of underground ambient-focused labels. More often than not, you will find a Kranky dronesmith with a synth experiment project, or a Sonic Pieces piano suite by way of Otto A Totland partnered next to songwriting new age style by Simon Scott.

There’s a caveat of new age falling into idea-microscopy through the palette being tried and tested. But put this on after a blast of droney ambience and you’ll become as revitalised as I was writing this review!

www.studentsofdecay.com

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