Banco De Gaia’s new album The 9th of Nine Hearts is released today. Toby Marks’ tenth studio album and first since 2013’s Apollo, it saw him collaborating with the likes of Tim Bowness (No-Man), Dick Parry and Sophie Barker (Zero 7) to further develop his expansive sound.
To celebrate the release of the album, we spoke to Toby about its conception and the bespoke artwork which relates to each track, the collaborators who contributed to it and the role it will play in the new live show.
Your new album The 9th of Nine Hearts is released today! What do you hope fans recognise or take away from the album upon the first listen?
In some respects I feel this album is a progression from my previous releases. I hope fans will appreciate the evolution that has taken place whilst still enjoying the more ‘traditional’ Banco-isms. It is certainly an album to sit down and listen to, and I think it will repay repeated listening as well as appeal on first listen.
Each day running up to the release, we’ve seen a new piece of artwork in relation to each track, with the artwork culminating in the album trailer. Who produced the photographs and artwork and how easy was it to distill the message of a piece of music into one image?
I have worked with my good friend Dave Whitehead on all my release artwork except one (when he was too busy travelling) since the very early days. We understand each other incredibly well and usually all it takes is one conversation and a few key words and concepts from me for him to come back with superb stuff like this. He called in another designer, Mik Ruff, to help with the booklet images this time and clearly he managed to communicate my ideas to him very well. I was really pleased when I saw how they had interpreted my ideas, far exceeding any visual ideas I might have had.
You’ve described how The 9th of Nine Hearts takes it’s influence from a wider range of music than previous albums, with some prog and more avant-garde music showing through. Does your music collection reflect this diversity – have you always had a love for these styles of music without necessarily bringing them in to your own work?
I grew up listening to Pink Floyd and prog rock and thinking it was normal. It’s always been there in the background (hence the long tracks!), as has my later interest in jazz, and I think these have had a subtle influence throughout what I’ve done. I’ve maybe brought that more to the fore on some of these tracks, and also my recent fascination with electro-acoustic composition, but I don’t think they’re a new addition as such. As for my music collection, it is certainly diverse; current playlist would include PJ Harvey, Gilles Gobeil, Porcupine Tree and Arvo Part. And no techno 🙂
Saxophonist Dick Parry plays beautifully on The Princess and the Sky Goat. He’s perhaps most known for that solo on Pink Floyd’s Money from Dark Side of the Moon; did you ever communicate what you wanted him to play in relation to his playing on Dark Side, or had you completely different ideas in mind?
I actually envisaged a soprano saxophone part before the recording session but when he turned up he said ‘well let me just try this…’ and got out his baritone. His choice was, of course, the right one.
How much of the new album will find it’s way into the live set for the October tour?
We’re playing the first half of the album in it’s entirety, something that I have not done before. I’m happy to say it’s going down very well so it seems to have been a good decision. The second half of the set is made up of a selection of older and newer favourites. No-one has complained about the choices so far 🙂
Pick up tickets for Banco De Gaia at Band on the Wall on 21st October here.