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Ken Baird - Further Out CD (album) cover


Ken Baird


Crossover Prog

3.64 | 16 ratings

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4 stars Canada's Ken Baird is among a few prog musicians like Guy Manning and Like Wendy's Bert Heinen who simply do not get enough recognition, even though they have sizable discographies and sterling material. They create with the implicit understanding that they will never knock on the hallowed gates of fame and displace the current flavor of the month (Lady Gaga?). They are artists because they express their inner spirit within a musical framework that has the least amount of respect anyway. As I love to say ad nauseam lately "Forgive them for they do not understand"! I have enjoyed all of Ken's previous albums from 1998's "Fields", followed by "Orion" and "Martin Road", a personal musical journey that has no hint of undue pretense, no cheap cloning of past greats or current upstarts and no abdication to commercialism. He is a melancholic balladeer who prefers padding some simple symphonics than any hip gloss that has no substance. "Spinning Wheels" is a tremendous introduction; swooning and densely atmospheric melodies are conjuring up feelings of springtime rebirth, deliberately increasing the melancholia, especially when Baird sings with such verve and vigor. The main chorus is heavenly, the verses heartbreakingly intertwined, the sedate guitar solo slowly building in emotive harmony, exploding into a paroxysm of bliss. Mother dear! What a track! "A Thousand Years" is more piano-personal based, where the voice takes over in angelic exuberance , childlike choirs spicing up the infinite sonic space, the impression is one of a maturely saccharine outlay of emotion. "The Sound of Rain" has a wobbly bass undertone but within another very up-beat gloomy kind of vibe. There are some pleading moments that make this very "song" oriented prog, but the musicians manage to convey a certain "recherché" musical palette that is immediately appealing. "Stainless Skies" is unfortunately a bit timid, a puerile mix of countryfied rock and pure balladism (sounding almost like Bread). With an extended slo-mo axe solo that doesn't convince at all. Nothing too great here for my ears anyway. "Where I Came From" is a leap back into the personal style that suits Ken best, a very proggy pop that is inherently gentle and emotionally secure. The lyrics are intense and the flute á la Celtique formulates well within the "good music" confines. The next one is a fine rock 'n roller , with dreamy vocals but a fiery rhythmic attack that highlights the groove parts , something that Steve Wilson would conjure up in another setting. There is guitar section that worms slowly into the brain, twirling magical notes quickly reverting to the various shifts from harsh, to exalted to pastoral. "Reflections on the Lake" is a drop-dead gorgeous hymn that glitters in the moonlight, painting more stars on the galaxial expanse, I quake with trembling knees when hearing such beauty. Magnificent piece of music (Mr. Hackett would be proud). "Everything to Lose" is another bluesy plaint that has piano and voice as main culprits, yet loaded with symphonics and contrasting themes once again. A piano solo is followed by a delightful flute foray and enveloped in synthesized parallels. Easy listening prog this is nevertheless, so don't expect atonal- technical stuff here, just a great unpretentious song! The final and title cut is the clincher, making this into another great effort. I still prefer his earlier material but there is a lot of intensely personal music here. This final track is grandiose, plaintive and passionate both instrumentally and vocally. First a wispy series of synth whistle solos catch the ear in awe, nice, then the vocals become more ardent with a huge chorus that stains the brain again. But the masterpiece moment is the extended gloomy mist, pulsating synthesizers inviting in a barrage of manic drum rifling, that is simply put , spectacular ! Chris Lamont has just entered fame, as his drumming is now set down for all to hear for eternity. Sue Fraser adds her beautiful voice to the celestial (been using that word a lot lately!) explosion, my feel is that she could have been more present in the previous tracks , as the two voices together could have made things even more interesting. A final synth farewell puts this one "further out". Needs to be heard as another good example of originality within rather strict guidelines. Thank you, Ken . 4 forest photos
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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