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BANJAX "Chaos in One" Green Man Records GRMN CD01

True confessions time - I'd not heard of Banjax before I got this C.D. to review, so at least I'd no preconceived notions to clutter my judgement, only ignorance!

Banjax is a ten-piece outfit whose line-up of instrumentation includes (in no particular order) saxophone, trombone, recorders, clarinet, small pipes, melodeon, etc. etc. So, not a typical traditional group, then. No, not at all, although most of the material that they play is drawn from some traditional source, albeit from several areas of the world.

Sea shanties like "Roll The Woodpile Down" emerge with haunting, reedy accompaniments, not the way in which the likes of Stan Hugill would have recognised it. On another occasion, Bert Kaempfert meets the Morris men, while further on, Cajuns hi-jack the aforesaid Morrises.

Confused? - not really, because we have become used to the idea nowadays of bands mixing and matching different cultures in order to provide a different sound whilst not losing the feel for the underlying genres. In this, Banjax succeeds, but not in the same way as bands with which they might easily be compared, such as "The Barely Works" or "Tiger Moth".

Other ventures of this kind can become a bit over the top, with everyone either trying too hard to convince you that they're having a really good time, or simply trying to outplay other band members, or simply trying. The end product here is surprisingly low-key, even a bit restrained, one for listening to, not for blasting out at full volume.

The title, for those of you who hadn't worked it out, is a quote from that well-known folkie Friedrich Nietzsche: "one must have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star". Just what I was saying to the chaps in the Central Bar after my fifteenth pint ...

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 6 of The Living Tradition magazine.