The Czecho-Slovak trio Banausoi – trumpeter, clarinetist and electronics player Petr Vrba, known from his collaborations with innovative European improvisers as fellow-trumpeters Axel Dörner and Franz Hautzinger, drummer-percussionist Václav Šafka and guitarist Ondrej Zajac, releases its debut album, «Imagines», described by the trio as a collection of stories intertwined with the aesthetics of radical improvisation and Greek mythology. The name of the trio comes from the Old Greek word «banausos», a reproachful term for a person working with their hands, and at that time musicians were part of this group of people. The song titles are also inspired by Greek mythology, similar to the cover and visuals created by Klára Záhradková and Daryan Hardy.
The trio was founded after Zajac and Šafka played an improvised concert in Prague’s Punctum, and Vrba was in the audience. Vrba, Šafka and Zajac using their hands for many unusual sonic tasks. Vrba adds layers of raw, suggestive electronics to his trumpet and clarinet playing, both instruments played with extended breathing techniques. Šafka attaches various objects to the skins of the drums and plays with a bow ton the cymbals. Zajac’s guitar playing is effects-laden and he occasionally adds his voice to the Banausoi impressive palette of abstract and raw sounds.
Banausoi describes itself as a ‘musical think tank’ that «performs in pretty much whatever genre it wants at the moment, always improvised and always with love». The music of Banausoi flows from abstract segments that stress strong melodic and lyrical elements towards intense and rhythmic, sound-oriented, chaotic and brutal storms, and vice versa, as in the opening piece «Aeneas Tacticus». Banausoi sounds like a much larger outfit when it exhausts its sonic palette but never settles on chartered modes or obvious moods, but seeks to expand its improvised strategies. On «Gorgoneion» the thorny, intense sonic envelope veils an engaging Mediterranean dance, articulated by Vrba. «Periegesis» sketches a lyrical yet unsettling, cinematic drone, occasionally disturbed by Šafka’s restless drumming. «Dialogues Of The Dead» dives into an enigmatic, minimalist soundscape. «Phaenomena» builds its tension methodically and Banausoi concludes this adventurous journey with the poetic and gentle «Stoa Poecile», beautifully narrated by the guitar of Zajac, with subtle West-African overtones.
Petr Vrba (tp, cl, elec), Václav Šafka (dr, perc, obj), Ondrej Zajac (g, v)