A decade ago, Devendra Banhart was the poster child for the American acid-folk movement that rose out of a close-knit community. As with all scenes, the different members went on to pursue their muses into contrasting and varied territory with Banhart continuing to explore eccentric song form. At first he took it into a more wild and free-spirited realm before beginning to refine his sound to the minimal, considered and settled sound that he’s created on Ape In Pink Marble, one of his cohesive and consistent releases to date.
Here he’s eschewed some of his more extreme vocal characteristics, opting for a dreamier, meditative delivery. In order to evoke the album’s eastern mood he taught himself the Japanese koto and blended it with a languid, woozy and intimate sound, giving the record a late 70s/early 80s vibe. Banhart is still reassuringly quirky and finding new and clever ways to present his musical vignettes amid the pulsing percussion, washes of synths and splashes of reverb and delay that evoke dub and tropicalia funk as equally as they do the outer limits of folk music.
This review was first published in Rhythms