Bardens, Peter - The Art Of Levitation

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Sanctuary
Catalog Number: CMRCD378
Format: CD
Total Time: 43:56:00

I think it was a shock for everyone to hear that keyboard player Peter Bardens had passed away on January 22nd. We all knew he was ill, very ill, but it still strikes you heavily, leaving you behind, speechless. Especially as a member of Camel Bardens was a mighty strong keyboard player, but also as a solo performer he had some wonderful moments. Especially the album Heart To Heart I like very much, although there are plenty of nice moments to be found on albums such as Big Sky and Water Colors. Only weeks after his death, his latest album The Art Of Levitation was released and let us hope he has witnessed the true levitation so he can compose and play music in higher atmospheres right now. On the eight songs on this disc Pete is accompanied by long time friend Mick Fleetwood. On two songs you can also hear Pete's daughter Tallulah, as if in his final days on earth Bardens was making sure there would always be a Bardens ready to continue the rock tradition.

It is mainly because of the tight drumming of Fleetwood that Bardens manages to leave behind his new age image whilst the arrangements nevertheless contain a fair amount of floating synth sounds. A nice example of this can be found in the opening track "The Zone" where Pete has his synths die down, whilst together with the drums a "loop" creates the undercurrent. Although Bardens didn't really have a singing voice, his soft speaking timbre nevertheless created something unique which adds to the originality of the music. Proof of this can be found in the almost whispering "She Takes Me There" in which the rich percussive input of the synthetic handclaps sound way too dated whilst the entire song goes on for much too long anyway. "Making Waves" is one long drone whose only purpose is to be the backing for a long synth improvisation resulting in the kind of music which can go on for hours without really making a statement.

One of the big surprises on this album is the reprise of the old Camel classic "Spirit Of The Water," yet this time around with daughter Tallulah replacing the nasal voice of Latimer. It's as if Bardens is trying to breathe new life into his older work so that new generations can enjoy it as well. Sadly the rhythm turns towards a commercial feel and we don't get a rich orchestration, although the arrangement cries out for real cellos and violins. When you hear a synth solo then most of the time the "desert flute" sound is used as used during the "tribal rhythm" feel of "Hopi Prayer" with once again Tallulah as the singing belly dancer. That ethnic feel is also apparent during "No Jazz" and the love for this kind of music will almost certainly come from Mick Fleetwood (remember his solo album The Visitor where he tackles African rhythms?). Also "Take Back Your Power" sounds rather repetitive, built around a "cheap" sounding rhythm where you'll hear Hammond sounds shining through as rare as sunrays shining through thick clouds. Here one would have expected a Jimmy Smith like solo which would have lead us through the night.

In the few lyrics contained on this album there are always a links to afterlife, as if Bardens really knew very well that he was working on his final album. It sounds as if he was packing his musical suitcase together with some intimate friends and relatives with whom he had a close bond. Especially in the final song "High" this is very clear with lyrics such as "where are you going? what do you hope to find? what are you taking? what will you leave behind?" before ending with "go where the wind blows, let it carry you, we will all fall down, then we'll get up again." The positive attitude of Bardens is still there till the last sentence on this album. An album which sadly no longer contains the power of his earlier work and which was maybe, bearing in mind his illness, finished a little quicker than expected. As a posthumous release this is a nice record, yet it doesn't deliver the funeral that should be reserved for royalty like Pete Bardens!

The Zone (6:44) / She Takes Me There (6:23) / Making Waves (6:25) / Spirit Of The Water (4:35) / Hopi Prayer (5:07) / No Jazz (4:44) / Take Back Your Power (4:38) / High (5:18)

Pete Bardens - keyboards, vocals
Mick Fleetwood - drums, percussion
Gabe Lackner - guitar
Tallulah Bardens - vocals
Andrew Lunsford - acoustic guitar
Gerard Herrera - additional percussion

The Answer (1970)
Peter Bardens (1971)
Write My Name In The Dust (1971)
Heart To Heart (1979)
Seen One Earth (1987)
Speed Of Light (1988)
Watercolours (1991)
Further Than You Know (1993)
Big Sky (1995)
The Art Of Levitation (2002)

Genre: Various Genres

Origin UK

Added: March 24th 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 951
Language: english


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