PETER BANKS

Prog ar­chi­tect’s later-life im­prov trio un­veiled for first time, over six discs.

Prog - - Echoes - KRIS NEEDS

It was dif­fi­cult not to feel sorry for Peter Banks at times. A founder mem­ber of the orig­i­nal Yes, who he named, Banks com­plained when he was side­lined by an or­ches­tra on Time And A Word, and was then promptly sacked in April 1970. He could only watch as the band be­came prog gods with an­other gui­tarist.

Over the years, Banks tried his luck with Flash, Em­pire, solo re­leases and col­lab­o­ra­tions be­fore find­ing him­self in­creas­ingly called up to an­no­tate Yes’ early legacy for

AN AR­CHI­TECT OF PROG GO­ING BEYOND WHAT HE

HELPED TO BUILD.

reis­sues and archival projects. In 2004, he got to­gether with drum­mer An­drew Booker and bas­sist Nick Cot­tam to form the im­pro­vi­sa­tional Har­mony In Di­ver­sity, find­ing an open field to run in rather than be­ing shack­led to nos­tal­gia. Booker and Cot­tam have delved into the vaults to pro­duce six CDs of record­ings to fol­low last March’s Be Well, Be Safe, Be Lucky an­thol­ogy in this fifth year since Banks passed and 50th since his orig­i­nal band formed: all pre­vi­ously-un­re­leased (al­though such mu­sic of the spheres would prob­a­bly have sailed over many old fans’ heads if any record com­pany had dared re­lease it).

Disc one (Strug­gles Dis­con­tained) kicks off the set with rel­a­tively short pieces that veer be­tween gen­tle puls­ing (On The Sixth At­tempt They Trod On It), scrab­bling funk (In­versible Flaw) and vin­tage Magma bass rum­ble (Ev­ery­thing Ends In Noth­ing). The trio start spac­ing out on four lengthy dis­ser­ta­tions on disc two (What Is This?), Banks ex­plor­ing his ef­fects boxes to get into Sun Ra-Miles Davis space jazz vis­tas.

By disc three (Try­ing) and four (Try­ing Again), the trio have hit an in­tox­i­cat­ing stride, cook­ing up a psy­che­delic space mantra on No Harm as multi-tracked gui­tars scream and squall into rare peaks of sonic cathar­sis. Al­though Banks can at­tack with early John McLaugh­lin in­ten­sity, on deeper cuts he re­calls over­looked New York elec­tric gui­tar evan­ge­list Loren Con­nors, en­ter­ing a haunted blues hole with every note per­fectly placed to leave the right emo­tional vapour trail. Other times like Sods At Odds, he drops a riff that would have made an­other Yes clas­sic.

Disc five’s Hit­ting The Fans (Live) con­tin­ues the mes­meris­ing Con­nors-style rever­ies along with romps over stur­dier beats (even Jimi’s Third Stone From The Sun on Out Of The Garage). Spon­ta­neous Cre­ation (disc six) closes the col­lec­tion with 11 shorter mis­sives of an elec­tronic, metal jazz hue, of­ten graced with spell­bind­ing alien beauty.

This hefty mono­lith is gen­uine af­fir­ma­tion that this ar­chi­tect of prog was go­ing way beyond the struc­tures he helped build when he passed; pro­gres­sive to the end.

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