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Devendra Banhart, Rejoicing in the Hands

Ink19 | by Aaron Shaul

...is Gondorian roots music, warped by its proximity to insanity, and all the more captivating because of it

It’s fun to imagine Devendra Banhart in a Lord of the Rings context, where the It Ring of Indie Rock has finally started to roll away from the recently displaced dance-punk kings, The Rapture. The Ring has traveled stylistic light years away, landing in the realm of minimal neo-folk. Banhart has not only scooped it up, but wears it without regard to its Smeagol/Gollum-esque mindwarping effects. The results are ridiculous, but pleasing. Lyrics like, “Because my teeth don’t bite I take them out dancing,” are eclipsed by the (*cough*) titular insanity of “Tit Smoking in the Temple of Artesan Mimicry.” Banhart goes beyond even Syd Barrett hippie-dippiness and reeks of Hobbit weed.

Musically, Banhart keeps the arrangements Pink Moon simple, rarely straying into territory a single acoustic guitar can’t cover alone. Instrumentals like the above mentioned “Tit Smoking…” are as indebted to Indian sitar drones as they are to traditional British/American folk. This subtle and honest hybridization is probably Banhart’s greatest strength. Led Zeppelin may have invented Middle Earth rock, but Rejoicing in the Hands is Gondorian roots music, warped by its proximity to insanity, and all the more captivating because of it.

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