Banks and Steelz, are an unlikely coming together of worlds. The duo are made up of post-punk/rock singer Paul Banks of Interpol fame, and Wu Tang Clan’s own RZA; the album carries the same sort of intension as the Jay Z/Lincoln Park collaboration ‘Collision Course’ in that it sees a marrying of indie rock and hip-hop sounds.
However, this is most certainly not a mash up record; it is an original full length album which includes big guest names such as Florence Welsch (Florence and the Machine) and Ghostface Killa. RZA has been spending a lot of time collaborating recently, however this Banks/Steelz partnership has been going strong since 2013, when the pair started making music together as a casual project. Incidentally GIGsoup recently caught up with American Rockers Faulkner about their own collaborator project with RZA, check out that interview here.
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‘Anything But Words’ has been a long time coming and is a unique listen. You see hints of the two artist’s influences just about shining through on each track, only to then blend seamlessly with elements that don’t really conventionally fit in anywhere. There is a strong electronic sound to the album too, which helps to mix in a little variety in with Bank’s post-rock melodies.
Opener ‘Giants’ sets up the album with a real sense of pace. Its arpeggiated synths give the impression of an 80s dance track, whilst RZA’s aggressive and old school vocal flow bring focus of the track right back into the lyrics in the classic style of Wu-Tang Clan era gangster rap. Bank’s vocals however, never feel like the main event on the album, they feel like a filler. An obvious comparison would be the function of Chester Bennington’s vocals in ‘Encore’ on Collision Course. Jay Z’s powerful vocals and fast flow were always the main event here, and the same is true for the vast majority of tracks on ‘Anything But Words’.
Title track ‘Anything But Words’ takes down the tempo and is guided along gently by Bank’s baritone vocals. Again, there are some unconventional drum lines and percussion sounds going on here, which blend together with indie-rock influences to create something a little bit different. ‘Love and War’ featuring Ghostface Killa is by far the most impressive track on the album, with appealing Maraichi style horns and its catchy vocal line “if all is fair in love and war, then what are we keeping score for?”
Overall, ‘Anything But Words’ is worth a listen and is unique in its marrying of many genre’s and influences. However it fails to pack a Collision Course style punch, even if that was not its original intension.
This Banks and Steelz article was written by Zoe Anderson, a GIGsoup contributor