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Banana Mundo - EP Review: Intercultural Appreciation Day

23 Apr 2024 // A review by Gaby Ivanov-Giraldo

Banana Mundo are a collective band situated in New Plymouth (West Coast NZ) and hailing from various places around the world. The band comprises members from Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, France, Switzerland and New Zealand. Releasing their debut on April 5th, Banana Mundo have created an impressive EP Intercultural Appreciation Day which celebrates and promotes global cultures through music. Boasting colourful and eclectic live performances, this populous arrangement of talent has promised us an exhilarating and perky experience for this year’s collection. This latest EP project weaves six festive tracks, combining genres such as Latin and Afrobeat, Funk, Polka (Bohemia) and the like. Not to mention, they lyrically feature songs in both English and Spanish. 

Intercultural Appreciation Day is a formal name, for a not-so-formal advent of fun and dance. The tracks take you on a journey of culturally diverse sound, creative rhythms and melodies, as well as a celebrated and memorable experience of friendship and unique collaboration. For those who enjoy listening to the unity of musical tastes and are also after a fun-loving and laid-back jam session, this EP is well worth your time and will open doors to new musical adventures. Through originality and a challenge to conventional flavour, the band unite listeners and embrace Aotearoa’s rich heritage with a narrative of pure carnival and fiesta. 

Opening the EP is their single Driving Around which starts us off with Latin drums and guitar, commemorating a coast-to-coast band roadie of wind, wave and exploration. Horns kick-in relentlessly around a minute in, with a follow of keys and catchy lyrics about their playful heyday. 

Banana Funk comes in next with exactly that, funk-laden grooves and a bounce of bass and disco. The horns inspire a glorious little jig, with a spicy key solo coming in at 1 min 48 sec. Talk about a sexy horn blast at 2 min 22 sec, with crafty and collective lyrics throughout. 

Intercultural Appreciation Day is a personal favourite, as its jungle-jam and Spanish lyrics fill the room with style and rich composure. It’s got even a reggae flavour, with faster percussion and fine bass moments. The horns really catch in this one, and I love the woody clatter that comes out in the percussion. Not to mention the hip, dancey vibe you get throughout this tune. Without a doubt, this would go off in a live setting with fellow Banana Mundo-enthusiasts. 

Tango Isabella at number four is one to bring ‘a la luz’ for sure; telling the story of a tango queen, yet somehow fading into a jiving salsa-dance a third way into the track, then back into a sassy tango with mixed tempo and a versed change in beat. The band specialise in this kind of switch-up, showing the brilliance of mixing an Argentine ballad (Tango) with a Cuban salsa, then easing off with smooth lyrics and dainty keys. I don’t know la bella Isabella but praise her for this track’s inspiration and novelty. 

Banana Soul comes in at number five, with a snaky sizzle, and the epic bounce of Latin-sounding keys. The horns stay in perfect unison and have a real soulful moment midway through the song. It then picks up in beat and vocalises an unquestionably good time. 

Banana Polka ends the EP with an accordion-laden sluggy start that describes a working-day, to only liven up in a celebration of Friday and of course, music, dance and vodka. The ingenuity is real in this album, given we have already had three languages come to life, as with a plethora of culture and party-lingua. A great “yeeha” and clinking of glasses ends the album, and you’re left feeling like you’ve travelled through time and celebration. 

Banana Mundo have proved their mission well, and truly celebrated diversity in the foxiest of ways. I enjoyed a real different gaze into worldly music and believe this band would hit stages nationwide with much appreciation. Cheers to good taste, and imagination! I hope they keep their valiance and keep making music for the cultural soul. 

Musicians Include: 

Bass, Clave, Percussion and Lead Vocal - Andre Manella
Keys - Severin Thiebaut 
Trombone (tenor and soprano) - Tom Roberts
Saxophone - Robin Wells
Guitar - Andres Duran 
Accordion - Noami Kuttner
Percussion - Nico Paladini 
Drums - Christian Jacobsoni Rangel


About Banana Mundo

Banana Mundo is a collective of musicians from around the world. Members from Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, France, Switzerland, England and New Zealand bring together an infectious worldly mix of upbeat Latin and Afro Beat tunes.

Hailing from New Plymouth, the w(b)est coast of beautiful New Zealand, the band features French keysanova Severin Thiebaut on hot salsa flavoured keys, the brassiliant English tenor and soprano trombone player Tombone Roberts, local west coast Kiwi legend Robin Wells on jazzy sax, genio de la guitarra (guitar genius) Andres Duran from Uruguay, the hottest accordion player in all of the west Naomi Kuttner, “máquina de percusionista” aka “the love rhythm” Argentinian percussionist Nico Paladini and the world's tallest man from Venezuela en la batería (on drums) Christian Jacobsoni Rangel.

The explosive 8-piece band Banana Mundo is fronted by the musical swiss army knife Andre Manella on bass, clave, percussion and lead vocal.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Banana Mundo


Year: 2021
Type: EP

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