To CD or not CD? That is the question. Whilst some artists are starting to rely exclusively on streaming servicing of their latest release – and therefore declining the option of a shiny silver disc – Toby Marks, the man behind Banco De Gaia (“World Bank”), continues to double down on the perhaps soon-to-be legacy format.
Banco De Gaia’s music straddles the seemingly implausible nexus of world music, electronica and dub with the occasional drift into the extended noodling of 70’s progressive rock. The results are sometimes deeply introspective (2006’s Farewell Ferengistan) and sometimes euphoric (1998’s The Magical Sounds Of…) and often both…
…when Marks took Last Train To Lhasa on the road in 1995, that year’s Glastonbury Festival performance was recorded to DAT and released on CD a year later. The result – the plainly titled Live At Glastonbury – remains the most celebratory and joyous recording of Banco De Gaia’s 14 album career.
The CD sleeve notes read:
“This is a recording of the complete set performed on The Avalon Stage, Glastonbury Festival, England on June 24th 1995. We have tried to capture the spirit of the occasion rather than achieve technical perfection. No blame.”
Mission accomplished. A Melody Maker review from 1996 enthused more effusively: “the atmosphere of the recording is so vibrant and celebratory that you… feel the musical playback actually benefits from the adoration of others. A jaw-dropping triumph.”
Twenty years on from that original release, our man from Leamington Spa is marking the occasion with an expanded 20th Anniversary edition of Live At Glastonbury, one that will combine the original 1995 live set with another recorded twenty years later at the 2015 Glastonbury Festival.
Describing the differences between now and then Marks tells DAR via email, “It’s much bigger, much more crowded and much more urban in a lot of places. People still want to have the same experience though and let their hair down, same as they ever did. I guess I play to an older audience now than I did then but they are just as enthusiastic and, especially at the moment playing with the live band, I still love it.”
The differences between now and then aren’t only limited to the live experience. Home listeners can now access music via downloads and streaming services.
From the Banco De Gaia Facebook page, Marks writes, “When this [Live at Glastonbury] fist came out streaming hadn’t even begun. Now it’s either destroying or saving the music industry, depending on who you believe.
Glastonbury Festival is still going as strong as ever but revenue from recorded music continues to fall (despite what some ‘experts’ tell you). Meanwhile, streaming is a music fan’s dream. Good or evil? You tell me…”
The words might seem ambivalent but Marks’ wariness of the music industry’s current artist remuneration method can be heard in the tone of his social media missive.
Marks is more than a man of words. In a similar vein to the 20th Anniversary Editions of Maya and Last Train To Lhasa dropping in 2014 and 2015 respectively, Marks will be issuing the double-decade birthday edition of Live at Glastonbury on CD and CD only. No streaming, no downloads.
Whilst the original CD’s nine tracks remain available on Spotify, Tidal and as a lossless or lossy download from Marks’ bandcamp page for £6 (where it is oddly recast as a Special Edition), if you want to get your ears around Banco De Gaia’s live set from the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury 2015, you’ll have to pony up some extra cash for the 2CD 20th Anniversary Edition when it lands in stores on 5th August, shipping an all. Price is TBC.
This long time Banco De Gaia fan will be buying in just as I did with the expanded Maya and Last Train to Lhasa, most likely via Marks’ aforementioned bandcamp instead of Amazon.com.
Lastly, geekier fans (like yours truly) will perhaps recall the original CD booklet containing the following additional info:
“Due to a rather complicated legal and political situation, we were unable to clear a vocal sample used on ‘887’. We have therefore had to edit that section out, which has left the track less than perfect, but it seemed best to still leave it on the CD anyway. Let’s pray for the day when we will ALL appreciate music for what it is, rather than for it’s financial or political value…”
Twenty years on, I asked Marks to spill the beans: “It was a vocal from a track by a band called Praise, originally used on a car advert”, he says. So that’s that cleared up then; even if the sample remains uncleared and missing from the 20th Anniversary release.
The CD isn’t dead yet.
Further information: Banco De Gaia – Official Website