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big men cry review
(by gavin stok)
may 2 1998

as with enigma and deep forest, banco de gaia has followed up his most successful album to date, last train to lhasa, with an album that has on overall sound which is markedly different from its predecessors. Missing on big men cry are many of the lush atmospheres and a heavy influence on traditional Eastern instruments and chants. staying are the strong rhythms, and chopped up chants used as instruments.

using more live instruments than his previous efforts, marks has created a more diverse album than last train to lhasa. drippy, after a long built-up introduction, is a dance track with a catchy rhythm and appealing female chant. It then blends into celestine which is a laidback track making use of a slow beat, and great use of saxophone and male chant. this then continues into another dance-like track, drunk as a monk. following this is the title track, big men cry, a haunting ambient track which stands out as the best offering on the album. we are then presented with some sound effects in gates does windows, a sound effect laiden space track in one billion miles out, and finally more of the same in the 20 minute starstation earth which concludes with a dance-like rhythm for the last quarter.

as with last train to lhasa there are stand out moments in each track, with the possible exception of one billion miles out which appears too random and unstructured in the context of the rest of the album. the stand-out tracks on the album are drippy (particularly the last half), celestine, and big men cry, each which exemplify the talent and diversity of marks' work. drunk as a monk is quite good, while starstation earth is similar to 887 [structure] (from the last train to lhasa album) in that its structure is to create the underlying tune at the start of the track, then divert during an interlude, and finally bring back the tune at the start of the track and build on it to conclude. unfortunately, as with 887 [structure], the interlude goes for too long. as a whole, big men cry is a worthwhile buy on the bass of the stand-out tracks alone. marks continues to expand his skills and reward his listeners accordingly.

copyright 1998-2002 gavin stok. all rights reserved