Devendra Banhart & Noah Georgeson - Refuge 2xLP
Label: Dead Oceans
Last spring, Devendra Banhart and Noah Georgeson started to make a record that was like nothing they had made before — an ambient album that would be both a haven from a suddenly terrified world and a heartfelt musical dialogue between two artists who have been friends and collaborators for over two decades. Refuge is an album of profound meditative beauty which offers the listener a much-needed sense of peace and renewal. But while it was recorded in 2020 its roots go back much further — all the way to the start of their friendship and, beyond that, to the shared sounds and ethics of their childhoods.
Devendra grew up in Venezuela while Noah, six years older, is a native of Nevada City, California. But as they got to know each other, they realised that they had a similar history in the New Age subculture of the 1980s: a world of meditation, Eastern music, the Bhagavad Gita and The Whole Earth Catalog. Childhood memories were coloured by the aromas of health food stores and the sound of New Age labels like Windham Hill Records. Noah, whose production and mixing credits include Joanna Newsom and the Strokes, came on board as co-producer of Devendra's 2005 album Cripple Crow and they have been working together ever since.
It was while making Devendra's 2019 album Ma that the pair finally decided to make their ambient record. Despite complicating logistics, 2020 created an emotional craving for music with this contemplative, therapeutic quality. Inspired by both memories of the past and the needs of the present, Refuge is an act of companionship and generosity which gives the listener room to breathe. "We're hoping to create a sense of comfort and coming back to the moment," Devendra says. "It's really important to have a little bit of space between us and our anxieties and impulses. What you do with that space is up to you."