Album: “Ape in Pink Marble”
Release Date: Sept. 23
Label: Nonesuch Records
When Devendra Banhart began releasing music in 2002, the San Francisco-based artist first introduced his atmospheric symphonies to the outside world. Now, 14 years later, he has released his 10th album, entitled “Ape in Pink Marble.” Since its release on Sept. 23, the record has garnered lots of attention, more so than any previous albums.
In relation to his past work, “Ape in Pink Marble” blends the sparse soundscape of his 2005 masterpiece, “Cripple Crow,” with the sonic holism of his latest 2013 work, “Mala,” and the listener is none the wiser.
The album exhibits a certain level of diversity in feeling among its tracks, too. Songs like “Middle Names,” “Jon Lends a Hand” and “Theme for a Taiwanese Woman in Lime Green” each portray a waxing heart. They tell tales of simple admiration, naïve love and full-on infatuation. Other songs like “Saturday Night” and “Mourner’s Dance” half-stoically retell sardonic stories of a heart waning. Like its predecessors, “Ape in Pink Marble” is a melodious journey. It is one with good fortune, bliss, bad fortune and sorrow.
Moreover, the melodic structure of “Ape” is something to be reveled in. Its tune styles match those of Banhart’s contemporaries, like Radiohead and Mac Demarco, and this works to his advantage. However, his sound is uniquely his own, and defies his contemporaries as soon as he mirrors them.
His gloomy ballads are juxtaposed with positive synths that bubble to their surfaces. In this way, “Ape in Pink Marble” works to make a commentary on human sensation: that emotions are never through and through. No feeling is complete. This point is perhaps most exemplified in the song “Theme for a Taiwanese Woman in Lime Green,” where Banhart’s scratchy voice echoes, “There is no one in the world that I love/And that no one is you.”
Nonetheless, tracks from “Ape in Pink Marble” would work well on playlists that feature the latest hits of Radiohead and Mac Demarco. Other songs similar in sound could be the lighter ones of Glass Animals, the surrealistic odes of Alt-J and anything by Sufjan Stevens.
All in all, “Ape in Pink Marble” fits well into Banhart’s notorious list of cult-followed albums. With that said, it earns an A.