Classical crossover delight: “Five” by Tony Banks

Tony Banks, keyboardist of Genesis for their entire existence and one of the band’s chief songwriters, just released a new album of orchestral compositions, “Five”. Somewhat unusually, he released videos of all five tracks on the album on his official YouTube channel. I posted earlier “Prelude to a Million Years” when it was released as a teaser: below are the remaining four pieces.

This is the third orchestral neoclassical album by Banks, and to me the strongest. Echoes of instrumental Genesis passages and of his own solo work are there, to be sure — but also of English Romantic composers (particularly Vaughan Williams), of Ravel, and of Rachmaninoff, plus film composers.

As a bonus, here is my favorite track from his first orchestral album. “Black Down” (named after a geographic feature near his home) was originally written for keyboard (string synthesizer) and then transcribed for orchestra.

Enjoy!

Saturday night music: “Prelude to a million years” by Tony Banks

 

Tony Banks was my first rock hero, as Genesis’s keyboardist for their entire existence as well as the writer of many of their signature songs. Quiet, shy, and introvert in person, he was the one-man orchestra that put the S in ‘symphonic rock’. He has issued a number of underrated solo albums (‘A curious feeling’ and ‘Still’ both have gems on them), but in semi-retirement he has devoted himself to writing orchestral neo-classical music. The results sound much like film music, with echoes of John Barry and Bernard Herrmann, and occasionally of Ralph Vaughan Williams and other late-Romantic English composers. Tony has released two albums of his orchestral work so far, “Seven” and “Six” (the titles refer to the number of pieces on each). This is a track from his upcoming third orchestral album, “Five”, taken from his official YouTube channel.

Enjoy!

Friday night beauty: Tony Banks, “Black down”

After Genesis went on hiatus,  keyboardist and main songwriter Tony Banks composed and recorded an album of neoclassical pieces for orchestra called “Seven“. Most of the pieces sound like John Barry soundtracks and do not stand up well to repeated listening. One piece, however, stands head and shoulders above the rest: the “Black down” (named after a hill near Tony’s house). (Not surprisingly, it is also the least contrived of the lot, being basically a orchestral transcription of an improvisation by Tony on string synthesizers.)

The piece, in its elegiac beauty, also happens to capture my mood these days very well.

Enjoy!