Post From Mars
The Active Listener
You go to the Balduin Bandcamp page – “Swiss Alchemist of Music since 1988” and you are bombarded with albums and EPs, alternate versions of songs and a compilation of “early tapes”. Too much. And so, here the artist has thoughtfully put together this collection for The Active Listener; a best-of if you like, certainly an introduction, and it seems the logical starting point. Twelve songs, 37 minutes, no filler – every song a little swirl of pop-charm and psychedelia, traces of folk and little orchestral flourishes. Four Elements starts with a charming Nick Drake-via-Donovan guitar figure, some Eastern percussion to drive the folk/ish Incredible String Band style but the melody is John Lennon-like, or certainly Elliott Smith. And elsewhere you’ll find many derivations of that Lennon-like charm. From the bands that made their own mini-symphonies in his honour (Olivia Tremor Control) through to recontextualisations for the Lennon voice/voicings of 1967-1973 (A Hope For Loving You).
In A Better Land is propelled by a clever brushes-on-snare groove that adds a kink to the tail of this tune, it’s churchy organ sounds disguising the fact that it’s a little odds’n’sods instrumental, a quirky wee piece but made to feel so full.
Elsewhere, as on Catching The Moon, the music bursts with refracted colours, a prism of sound bouncing back those psychedelic hues.
People Do Buy Music has a Ween-like quality, Arctic Suite is another instrumental ditty, it feels like something Damon Albarn might dream up for an indie flick and though the closing title track feels like a slight misfire, more Scissor Sisters than Ween, more monotony than Metronomy it’s a smart wee collection overall. Lovely little not-quite-pop songs – or pop songs from another place, another time; either way they have the power and charm to momentarily sweep you away.