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Farewell Ferengistan


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Audio CD, July 4, 2006
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Product Description

Toby Marks, the creative force behind Banco De Gaia, is one of the world's leading exponents of globally inspired eclectic electronica. He mixes electronic and acoustic instruments and His distinctive vocal style has influenced an entire generation of artists. Banco de Gaia's latest, Farewell Ferengistan, once again mixes up sounds from around the planet with slamming grooves and ambient meditations. From the Bhangra-esque dance monster, 'Kara Kum' to the epic 'Saturn Return', Ferengistan is filled with the kind of fresh won Banco a rabid fan base around the world.

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There are a few artists in the swirl of U.K. electronica that keep trying to push the boundaries, and Banco de Gaia is one of them. The ethno-techno design that founder Toby Marks debuted some 15 years ago was already a broad palette to draw upon, but Marks goes beyond that. He's still using the Middle Eastern grooves and chants which may or may not be fake, but there's also the dreamy atmospheres of the title track, a drifting ambient tonic that segues into an almost '50s-style rock piano riff on "Ynys Elen." Like most of Banco's music, there are always hidden touches and references. "Flow My Dreams, the Android Wept" not only nods to Philip K. Dick, but the vocoder vocal on Wendy Carlos's A Clockwork Orange score as well. Marks has said that he doesn't want to just make "wave your hands in the air" music, but he does do that so well, including the epic "Kara Kum," with the pounding Qawaali drumming driving the track into ecstasy. But as Last Train to Lhasa illustrated, Marks has always been a musician who puts his politics into his music. Farewell Ferengistan pushes even deeper into themes of globalization, nation-building, and mechanization. In a mostly lyric-free music, those concepts are implied more than proselytized, and even when he makes a political comment, it's often with a wink. He relates that "Ferengistan" is an ancient Arabic name for the West. I can find no corroboration for that claim, but knowing Marks, it's really a nod to Star Trek and its venal Ferengi race. Like all Banco de Gaia's albums, Farewell Ferengistan is a journey, sometimes joyful, often bittersweet. --John Diliberto

1. Farewell Ferengistan
2. Ynys Elen
3. Chingiz
4. Kara Kum
5. The Harmonious G8
6. Saturn Return
7. Flow My Dreams, The Android Wept
8. White Man's Burden
9. We All Know The Truth (You Have God)

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 4, 2006)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2006
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Six Degrees
  • ASIN: B000FFP0CI
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #315,399 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By brjoro VINE VOICE on July 14, 2006
Format: Audio CD
For anyone not familiar with Banco de Gaia (Toby Marks), this is absolutely brilliant ambient electronic music, with touches of dub, world music, folk, and just about everything else you can imagine. He's been making brilliant electronic music since the late 80s, and has been releasing mind boggling original albums since 1994.

For fans, in my humble opinion, this is the best thing he's done since 'Last Train...' I, like many others, felt 'You Are Here' was a bit flawed, but this is a stunning return to form. Abandoning, except for the last track, the vocal cuts from the last several albums, this is prme vintage Banco, with gorgeous samples, amazing beats, and brilliant production.

Cannot recommend highly enough!!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Geni on July 25, 2006
Format: Audio CD
"Farewell Ferengistan" isn't the most original piece in Banco's ever-increasing discography, but it's one of the best. Thoughtful, engaging, energetic at times and meditative at others, political as usual but subtly so throughout, it incorporates all the best of Banco.

For those who don't know, Banco de Gaia is a well-named electronic outfit fronted by (and consisting mostly of) one Toby Marks. For the last 15 years or so, Banco de Gaia has been dropping one fantastic record after another, mixing together global percussion, melodic instruments from around the world, chants and throat singing and synthesizers and ambience and bits and pieces of who knows what. I won't use the term "world" music because Toby apparently dislikes it, as do I. Suffice to say there are liberal helpings of musical traditions that hail from lands east of Banco's UK residence. "Ferengistan," the liner notes tell us, is an ancient Central Asian term for European lands, which "later came to have connotations of greed, materialism and untrustworthiness." (Of course, the liner notes also say that any or all of the facts therein might be made up: perhaps Ferengistan is an homage to Star Trek instead. Marks is politically minded, but he's also got a sense of humor.)

Which reminds me: for Banco fans who felt that Tongue in Chic and some of the vocal cuts of recent years were a little heavy-handed, you'll be happy to know that they are more seldom and more subtle this time around. Banco de Gaia has a unique ability to be more politically relevant without lyrics than with them (see "Last Train to Lhasa").
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Crazy Fox on August 13, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This is really a first-class album in the ambient-electronica genre, with each track contributing to the total overall effect. Haunting and atmospheric and yet dynamic and dramatic, cosmic and ethereal and yet edged with earthly concerns and subtle humor, this music is as complex in mood and tone as it is in cross-cultural musical influences. My only nitpick comes from my personal preference for instrumental music: the last track, with its (admittedly fine) lyrics and vocals, ended this wonderful album on a bit of a weak note for me. But not enough to displace this CD from being one of this year's favorites as far as I am concerned.

While I have a few other albums by this group, I'm admittedly something of a casual fan, and I highly recommend some of the excellent, informative reviews on this page by more dedicated and knowledgeable fans. Based on my experience, though, this seems to be one of Banco De Gaia's stronger efforts, one that I will be listening to for years to come.

(Just for the record, the word "Ferengi" really is what the liner notes claim it to be, an Arabic word for European mercantilist traders and hence for Westerners/foreigners in general. The Star Trek usage is based upon this, as the Ferengi were meant in part as a sly satirical swipe at the hyper-capitalist expansionism of the West in the 19th and 20th centuries. That being so, though, these end up being mutually reinforcing references, both of which perhaps were intended to resonate with the listener.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Shah on October 29, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Toby Marks has given us an excellent musical journey with his newest album. Although the amazon reviews have been mixed on the musical merits esp. when compared to his previous albums and the lack of consistency, here's my take: the album rocks!! It's a beautiful mix with an underlying theme of all that's being forgotten in our modern existence: farewell ferengistan is an eulogy to the innocence that is rapidly disappearing in the current divisive world. The title track infuses haunting arabic vocals with a slow background that has stayed with me since I first heard it. Other tracks that I have come to really like are Chingiz and Saturn Return.

Do yourself a favor and join the journey that is Banco De Gaia...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard Senn on October 27, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Since His early Days with Planet Dog Records Banco De Gaia has offered up as much in the World/Techno/ambient genre as any of the established dj/computer/musicians of the day. He continues to travel the world in search of his own lost chord. On Farewell Ferengistan Banco revisits his Planet Dog days and at the same instance pursues further onward into the possibilities of a true World Dance Music, and oh yes! by all means don't be afraid to dance. Stand out groundbreaking tracks The Harmonious G8, and Flow My Dreams, The Android Wept. Hurry out and get this disc. Don't let the Starbucks crowd get the jump on you. Thank you Six Degrees for picking up Banco when Planet Dog left our Galaxy.
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