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Dean Baker - 2018 - "Constellations"

(55:04; Oskar)



1. Le Chat Qui Peche 9:14
2. Off the Shoulder of Orion 4:33
3. Here and Now 4:40
4. Modular Seasons 3:50
5. Clouded Hills 5:56
6. New Horizons 5:41
7. Nuda Veritas 4:08
8. Engelbrecht 3:37
9. Constellations 4:24
10. Impression No.8 9:01


Dean Baker - keyboards
Stu Nicholson - vocals
Lee Abraham - guitars
Anastasia Coburg - vocals 

Prolusion. UK composer and musician Dean BAKER is perhaps best known for his long tenure in neo-progressive rock band Galahad, as well as his still ongoing tenure as the keyboardist of Twelfth Night. As a solo artist he didn't appear until 2018, when he released the album "Constellations" through Polish label Oskar Productions.

Analysis. It is stated that this album came to be following one of Dean's friends passing away, and his subsequent inspection of his friend's music collection that he inherited. Substantial parts of which was by artists such as Jarre, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk. This inspection sent Baker on something of a composing spree, and the end result of that process was this album. The possible sources of inspiration are easy to find on this album. It is mainly a keyboards and synthesizer driven affair, and the nature, tone and intensity of these instruments and how they are applied will be the main elements that brings forth associations towards specific artists. For my sake, I heard quite a lot of Tangerine Dream, substantial details reminding me of Vangelis and a few bits and pieces that I associated with Jarre. Not as much Kraftwerk as such to my ears, albeit some of the darker toned excursions do share a similar nature in terms of mood and atmosphere. Other ears may probably experience this production somewhat different than what I do, especially those with a keener interest in the field of progressive electronic music than what I have. That being said, we have a few different types of compositions here. Some, and to my ears the most interesting of the lot, strikes me as fairly similar in nature on many levels to early 80's Tangerine Dream in general and, possibly due to me being rather familiar with that album, with a specific touch of the sound Tangerine Dream explored on their album "White Eagle". Firm to hard light toned synthesizer sounds with a cold and chill sound, contrasted by darker toned textures and electronic rhythms. Other songs strikes me more as a marriage between the sounds of Tangerine Dream and Vangelis, with the foundation of the former and the softer, gliding ambient tinged textures of the latter. There's one token song that for me comes across as similar in nature to the Jon Anderson and Vangelis collaboration, with softer keyboards and synthesizers paired off with high toned male lead vocals, while other creations strikes me as being more light, elegant and moving affairs with more of a Jean Michel Jarre feel to them. Perhaps more compelling than expressive throughout as a whole, but on the final composition 'Impression No. 8' it would appear that Baker decides to have a go at a more expressive landscape throughout, as well as summarizing the contents of the album in general as certain moods, themes and motifs are revisited here, returning to some of the details of the opening song as well to provide the album with a full circle experience.

Conclusion. Dean Baker doesn't provide anything all that innovative on his debut solo album, but I rather suspect that wasn't the aim either. The impression I get is that this is an album where he heralds his friend and his taste in this specific kind of music, exploring sounds, moods and atmospheres that his friend treasured. Perhaps this is also something of a catharsis experience as well, at least that would be logical given the circumstances. Apart from those aspects of this album, I suspect that most people with a taste for the music of early 80's Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre should find plenty to enjoy on this CD.

Progmessor: May 18th 2019
The Rating Room

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