Neil Smythe: Refrains is the third volume of a trilogy of recordings by the artist sometimes known as Victor Banana and is, sadly, the only which remains in print.
When the creator of these works abruptly retired from the music business shortly after this album was released, he requested that when existing stocks of his recordings were depleted no more be manufactured.
As a result, the previous works: "Split," the first Victor Banana album (when the group was a childlike and playful quartet) and "Like A Velvet Glove Cast in Iron," the darker soundtrack album to accompany Dan Clowes' acclaimed comic series, vanished from stores and the internet, and they (along with the group's memorable live performances) remain alive only in the memories of Victor Banana's cult-like following.
The artist remains adamant about his decision that his work not be heard, and so this album (only because of its larger initial pressing quantity) remains the only fragment still available for purchase. But that's your good luck, for in many ways the Neil Smythe work is the masterpiece of this tiny oeuvre.
Painted in broad, freshly-colored strokes on a dark canvas, Refrains explores deep themes in quirky ways, with a larger ensemble than Victor Banana's earlier recordings.
Here are the players who helped bring Neil Smythe to life:
Celeste Moreno--oboe, fiddle
Danny McGough--President organ
George Woods--electric guitar, trumpet
Max Ferguson--acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo
Dean Opseth--acoustic guitar, mandolin, ukelele
Tim Hensley--accordion, vocals
Sheri Ozeki--bass, copyist
Sheryl Farber, Lisa Jenio, Ilene Markell--background vocals