Devendra Banhart and Noah Georgeson have teamed up on an album Refuge that may sound somewhat unfamiliar to fans of their individual art, but something that doesn’t feel totally out of the ordinary of what they could do and fits in the context of this world we live in. Banhart is an American singer-songwriter and visual artist and Georgeson is a singer-songwriter, producer and engineer and together they teamed up not on a folky, claustrophobic album about the end of the world, but rather a largely instrumental, ambient record designed to sooth and meditate.
They teamed up with some of the best to help create this project with Mary Lattimore on harp, Nicole Lawrence on pedal steel, Tyler Cash on piano, Todd Dahlhoff on bass, Vetiver’s Jeremy Harris on synthesizer and additional production, and David Ralicke on brass and woodwind.
The genesis of this project began during 2020, originally separately, but then together, as they combined droning pieces with luminous strings and woodwinds and then it got much larger as more people joined the project. Though this just came together recently, it was an idea that had been kicked around for 20 years.
Unlike a lot of the DJs or neo-classical artists we have covered since the beginning of the pandemic, this is much more organic, with a lot of those previously mentioned instruments working together, not always at the same time, but often in tandem. They create tracks that can be dark and haunting, or pastoral and open or just soothing and relaxing. It is designed to be a refuge from the pain of this world, however you may be experiencing it at this moment.
People may be itching to party again, but it is good to be reminded of what we have gone through and that there is still more to go. There is also a beauty to this record, like flowing tall grass in a large open field. The end of “Sky Burial” has a short spoken word section with a message that feels worth sharing with others, “May you be safe, may you be happy, may you healthy, may you live with ease.” Go and be in ease with this album and with others in your life. Pick up your copy of Refuge here.