David Cross & Peter Banks -

(CD 2020, 49:36, Noisy Records Noisy 010)

The tracks:
  1- Rock To A Hard Place(9:12)
  2- Upshift(8:21)
  3- The Smile Frequency(5:17)
  4- The Work Within(4:28)
  5- Missing Time(4:10)
  6- Plasma Drive(6:05)
  7- Laughing Strange(7:23)
  8- Crossover(4:40)

website David Cross      website Peter Banks      facebook     

Crossover is another posthumous album from the estate of the former Yes guitarist Peter Banks, who died March 2013. It is an album in cooperation with ex-King Crimson violinist David Cross, recorded in 2010 in one afternoon.

Crossover was born from an encounter between Cross and Banks during a joint tour in March 2006 of The David Cross Band and Harmony In Diversity. It was not until August 2010 that the two musicians finally entered the studio to improvise together for an entire afternoon. The tapes remained as they were after the death of Peter Banks in 2013 until David Cross decided to produce them as the guitarist had intended. Davis Cross then invited other musicians, mostly members of Yes and King Crimson, to record additional parts and finalize the album.

So several recording sessions directed and mastered by Tony Lowe and Cross himself were set up throughout the years 2018 and 2019. A large series of contributions were added by several major names in progressive rock such as King Crimson drummer-percussionist Pat Mastelotto. Keyboardists Oliver Wakeman, Geoff Downes and Tony Kaye all of Yes fame also showed up. Current Yes bassist Billy Sherwood and current Yes drummers Jay Schellen contributed as well. Next to drummer and Jeremy Stacey. Even oriental instrument expert Randy Raine-Reusch was invited. Andy Jackson (known from his work with Pink Floyd) provided sound effects on one track and Tony Lowe himself added additional bass and keyboard parts on a couple of tracks.

But if you are familiar with the activities of David Cross and Peter Banks over the past decades, it is quite clear that you shouldn't expect a homogeneous mix of the music of Yes and King Crimson in the 1970s style. Rather, both artists are driven by their ideas and their shared energy. Originally the recordings of the violin and guitar parts were in the archives for several years before David Cross and producer / multi-instrumentalist Tony Lowe took up the recording again.

The eight tracks that are released on this album are fully instrumental. The often improvised music is sometimes full and atmospheric but also, at times, experimental. The melodies and textures are dominated by the violin while the rather discreet guitar works mostly in the background, knitting sound and rhythmic effects. The mostly improvised interpretations were put into a certain musical corset, although the eight purely instrumental tracks still reveal spontaneity and openness. The electrically amplified violin parts and shimmering guitar chords flow into each other rather spherically, the ideas are given enough space to breathe and develop, which is why some tracks range from seven to nine minutes. Sometimes the floating sounds develop into a melody, from an initial noise or search to a relaxed interplay. The stylistic elements are somewhere between art rock, progressive rock, ambient and light-footed jazz rock structures and despite the freedom of content, many remain rooted in traditional song format. In addition, the relatively well-known names remain inconspicuous accompanying musicians rather than appearing through concise ideas. So the album name is almost programmatically chosen, this collaboration turns out to be an interesting and complex matter at the crossroads of different influences.

The musical highlights are for me without doubt the tracks on which a strong rhythm was added. Such as the opening piece Rock To A Hard Place which kicks things off with an enthusiastic and outgoing attitude. Also Plasma Drive and Laughing Strange are good examples that strong (up tempo) rhythm parts lift a song to a much higher level. It certainly doesn't mean that the more mellow parts are less interesting. No way! It just brings more variety to the table. And that's all that counts.

I certainly had a rather pleasant time listening to this album. Even if most of the songs were improvised already seven years ago, they didn't sounded dated. I guess David Cross and Peter Banks spent a fruitful afternoon together. It has to be said, that without the contributions of the musicians mentioned earlier, the level of musical enjoyment would be much less. Therefore it probably was very wise of Cross to ask them and to use their input. For those who like to have musical references it is rather difficult to mention them. Sometimes the music moves into the direction of Van Der Graaf Generator other times traces of experimental King Crimson can be spotted. Then again other people might hear other influences. So my advice is; try to listen yourself before getting this interesting jam album.

***+ Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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