With a wild beard and oddball songs that display a fascination with everything from nature to the human body, Devendra Banhart emerged as one of the central figures in the “freak folk” movement of the 2000s.
Banhart’s albums are often charmingly childlike, filled with pianos, cellos, and handclaps, plus big doses of neo-hippie whimsy.
But when he wants to, the Cali-based singer can also be a serious craftsman, and as the 2000s wore on he deployed his gorgeous vibrato and melodic skills with more and more focus.
Devendra Banhart | Für Hildegard Von Bingen
Since his 2002 debut LP, Oh Me Oh My…, a glorious tangle of lo-fi tape hiss and acoustic vignettes, Devendra Banhart has traversed myriad stylistic avenues.
Be it the scarred folk balladry of his watershed 2004 albums Rejoicing in the Hands and Nino Rojo, to his comparatively baroque 2005 release Cripple Crow, and his often overreaching late ’00s albums Smoke Rolls Down Thunder Canyon and What Will We Be, his ambitions have always been crashing, irrespective of artistic triumph.
Devendra Banhart | Daniel
Mala, Banhart’s seventh LP and first in three and a half years, is yet another stylistic curveball, favoring low-key arrangements with subtle flourishes of Tropicalia, and disco even.
Mala’s production is crisp and clean, and borderline ascetic when contrasted with Banhart’s three previous albums. Co-produced by Noah Georgeson, who also plays guitar in Banhart’s band, the songs exude a certain cloistered feel, akin to Beck’s Sea Change or The Velvet Underground’s second LP.
Devendra Banhart | Taurobolium
The gentle electro syncopations of “Won’t You Come Over,” and the woozy jazz bebop number “Taurobolium” both hint at just how versatile and gifted Banhart is, perhaps worthy of Swans leader Michael Gira’s assertion long ago that he was in the same league as Beck.
But it’s a disservice to compare Banhart to anyone. He’s a singularly idiosyncratic and brilliant songwriter, one hitting an arresting stride.
Devendra Banhart LIVE
Monday, 08 July 2013 | 20:00 CET
Huxleys Neue Welt | Hasenheide 107 – 113 | 10967 Berlin/Neukölln