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Album Review
Ape In Pink Marble

Ape In Pink Marble
by Devendra Banhart

Nonesuch Records

Review Date
26th September 2016
Reviewed by
Joel Greatbatch

As an artist who was born in Houston, raised in Venezuela, and spent his teen years in California; it's obvious you’re in for something that isn’t the usual American singer-songwriter fare with Devendra Banhart. But in his ninth studio album, Ape in Pink Marble, the charismatic musician continues to stretch out his unique brand of psychedelic avant-folk further - and to good effect. Banhart wrote, arranged and recorded the album in Los Angeles with long-time friends and collaborators Noah Georgeson and Josiah Steinbrick; and within a short listen it would appear the sunny beaches and warm climate of LA had quite an influence on the sound.

The record still has the slightly muffled lo-fi atmosphere of Banhart's previous work, but this time it's blended with the coolest ‘Girl from Ipanema’ style elevator music you could be blessed going up-and-down to (it’s the fabulously titled ‘Theme for a Taiwanese Woman in Lime Green’ that best captures this description). But while other tunes slide into more funky and bouncy territory with the familiarly plucked guitars joined by snappy bass and drums, the overall description could be simply labelled ‘chilled’. It’s a wacky and strange form of chilled, but it’s all very listenable and easy to return to.

It’s not easy to categorise the sound of the album as a whole, as Banhart pushes in different directions throughout the 44-minute running time - however, he makes the shifts in a calm progression rather than randomly scattering different moods and instruments about the place. The record commences with a more relaxed Sufjan Stevens feel, but changes to a tropical groove before winding back down as you approach the conclusion. Like all good albums that aim for a beginning-to-end listen, he takes you on a journey that is pleasantly deliberate and well thought-out.

As the warmer months begin to roll around you’ll benefit from having Ape in Pink Marble in the air as you lie in your hammock at the bach or chat to friends while looking out to sea from your infinity pool. But even without those sorts of luxuries Banhart knows that wherever you are; he can certainly take you there.


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