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(72 min, Nadar Solo Discos)
TRACK LIST: 1. De las Nubes al Sol 2. El Verano del Cohete 3. Astronauta Olvidado 4. Novelty 5. La Marana Verde 6. Zurich Queda en Paris 7. Falla en el Transbordador 8. Vendran Lluvias Suaves 9. Durmiendo en la Nieve de Gerry 10. Hemos Traido Muchas Rocas Lunares 11. Un Camino a Traves del Aire All tracks: by Bauer. Produced by Bauer & J Stewart. LINEUP: Gabriel Ardanaz - vocals, electric guitar Julian Pez - electric & acoustic guitars, e-bow Martin Mykletiw - Moog, Kawai, Rhodes & acoustic piano Ezequiel Esposito - electric bass Federico Perez - drums & percussion With: Pablo Grinjot - violin (1, 6, 7 & 10) Hernan Sforzini - percussion (2, 4, 5 & 7 to 10)
Prolusion. BAUER is an Argentine band comprised of four friends who knew each other from high school. With the addition of Federico Perez Losada, the band released "Klee" in 2002 and "Bauer" EPs in 2003. "Astronauta Olvidado" is their first full-length release.
Analysis. Subdued, melancholy and relaxing are all adjectives that come to mind in thinking about the music of Bauer. Since I do not speak Spanish, I cannot say if this is a concept album or not, but throughout the tracks the sound remains relatively unchanged. The textures woven by the keyboards and guitars (combining acoustic and electric tonalities) create a mild space rock, with a good dose of tasteful tape loops and electronic sounds common to the genre. There is something of a Bauer formula to many of the songs, beginning slowly and almost dreamlike, shifting the mood to something more agitated the tempo increasing along with volume and overall energy in a rising crescendo to the end of the song. De Las Nubes Al Sol sets the tone for most of the album. It is quiet, somewhat somber at the start. Long, low tones of Cello, with occasional glissandos are overlaid with Rhodes piano. Other effects add to the sense of being in space, quite befitting the title of both this song and the album in general. Ardanaz's voice is pleasant and integrates well with the instrumentation, which is tasteful and understated. Toward the end of the song the music becomes mildly chaotic, reminiscent of the ending chord in A Day in the Life by the Beatles. El Verano Del Cohete will undoubtedly remind listeners of Pink Floyd with its use of slowly strummed guitar chords over organ and flute-like Mellotron sounds. The title cut begins with a lovely piano intro with a voice recording from some international airport information line. An effect is used on the vocal to sound like it's being heard through a small speaker, perhaps the voice of the song's "forgotten astronaut". Again, the melody is pleasant and relaxing through much of the track, but builds in intensity toward the end, then segues into "Novelty" using the airport recording, which I originally assumed to be a NASA space tape until I listened to what was being said. (I'd have preferred they'd used actual space flight recordings rather than airport informational recordings in keeping with their theme.) La Manana Verde begins with Mykletiw playing major 7th chords on the piano in the same fashion as Robert Lamm did for Colour My World on Chicago II. That song is such a rock classic that I was a little shocked to hear this, though the progression is not exactly the same, it is unsettlingly similar. Thankfully, this doesn't last long and the song soon sounds like all its companions in overall tone, though there is a nice little bit of acoustic guitar strumming midway. Suffice it to say, there is a certain sameness from beginning to near end. Un Camino A Traves Del Aire, the finale, is the most daring and most raucous of all tracks. Though it begins in much the same mold as the other tracks, midway the guitars break loose, accompanied by all sorts of spacey effects. Unfortunately, they just do the same thing for the last 5 minutes of the album, closing what was a very restful album with chaotic monotony. (A side note: The booklet and their website is plastered with dozens of quirky drawings, but very little information. Of the booklet's 28 pages, only 3 include verbal information, the other 25 provide a gallery for their artwork. If the music were stronger, this would not have occurred to me, but as it is, I'm left wondering which art the band is more interested in, visual or aural.)
Conclusion. It's good, but just not exciting. It's good, but not varied. Although pleasant enough in their compositions and instrumentation, there is not enough variation here to make it compelling listening. There is nothing particularly challenging compositionally or in technically in musicianship, so it works well as background music while doing something else. It is somewhat spacey, but not especially progressive. The album is littered with various sounds and effects of the Space Music genre. Excellent blandness! If anything, listening all together, "Astronauta Olvidado" left me wanting to hear David Bowie's "Space Oddity," as he did in one song what Bauer took an entire album to do less effectively.
KW: Agst 26, 2005
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