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Banjo or Freakout shares new MP3, gets remixed, plus more album details for S/T debut on Rare Book Room

By January 28, 2011No Comments

Banjo or Freakout photo by Robert Bellamy

MP3 – “Go Ahead” (Snoretex Remix) –

MP3 – “Go Ahead” –

So we welcome to Rare Book Room Records Banjo Or Freakoutʼs self-titled debut, a heady collection of introspective beats and carefully constructed moments forged across borders and genre. Italian-born and London-based Alessio Natalizia makes stargaze pop that stares stellar, but with feet firmly set forwards from the sonic footprints left by artists like Kevin Shields, Can, and Arthur Russell, and contemporaries Caribou, Deerhunter and A Place to Bury Strangers.

“I think that it works when you want to be taken over, encompassed by music, when you are looking to lose yourself in something,” Alessio says, and this ethos imbues itself throughout the richly textured sound of Banjo Or Freakout. A unique sound, where sonic invention meets timeless pop sensibilities in equal measure, giving rise to melodies that evoke visceral emotion and experience.

Alessio grew up in the ancient Italian town of Vasto “listening to Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks on repeat,” with a musician grandpa who bought him a classical guitar when he was eight and, later, time spent playing in Turin post-punk trio Disco Drive. It wasnʼt until a move to London that Alessioʼs music started garnering attention. “Living in London I really understood my need to do something different that felt more personal. With Banjo I just wanted to do something that was 100% me and no one else (Alessio also stars in Kompaktʼs acclaimed kraut-ambient duo WALLS). I started playing around with my girlfriend’s laptop while I was waiting for her to come back from work and discovered a new world of making music.”

After a string of plaudits for remixes of artists as diverse as Bloc Party, Burial, Wild Beasts and Amy Winehouse, it wasnʼt long before Banjoʼs first EP Upside Down was received to critical praise across the board. Swathed in gauzy melancholia, itʼs a precursor to the introspective delirium of this album, though Alessioʻs approach to making music has never wavered: “I just want to write very personal pop songs that are not going to die in a couple of years, songs that have longevity, that you could go back to and listen in 10 years and still feel close to.” Banjo Or Freakout does that, his twinkling revelries a distant cousin to future touring partner (this November) Gold Panda and his cinematic dream pop, dense yet ethereal.

With days at home recording ideas in “just one take, never more than one take,” by early 2010 Alessio had amassed over a hundred songs. Nicolas Vernhes (Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, Bjork and Spoon) at Rare Book Room studios in New York heard them and invited him over to make the album.

“I selected 30 songs and played them to Nicolas. We spent the first two days listening and talking about them. On the third day we started to record – we took just a week or so.”

Alessioʼs penchant for recording quickly doesnʼt lessen the songsʼ quality. The immediacy of Banjo Or Freakoutʼs sound – a sprawl of guitars, synths, drum loops and effects – is simply mesmeric. Born from his love for artists like Dennis Wilson and Bobb Trimble, opener ʻ105ʼ sets the pace, a woozy epic of tremolo guitar, horizon-set acoustics and heartfelt vocals. From there the albumʼs oblique lyrics, rhythmic tribal beats and lush melody all suggest something otherworldly, an intangible feeling.

Songs for a time, moment or memory then, a soundtrack blurring boundaries and crossing through definitions. Banjo Or Freakout rewrites them as he sees fit.

Banjo or Freakout
Banjo or Freakout
(Rare Book Room / Memphis Industries)
Street Date: Feb. 22, 2011

Go Ahead
Canʼt Be Mad For Nothing
Move Out
Idiot Rain
Fully Enjoy
From Everyone Above
Black Scratches
Dear Me
I Donʼt Want to Start All Over Again


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