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Peter Bardens - The Art Of Levitation CD (album) cover


Peter Bardens


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2.74 | 20 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Ascension

Peter Bardens untimely death in January 2002 not only robbed the prog world of one of its great artists, it also took from us a genuinely nice guy. The "Art of levitation" was to be his last album. Although it was completed prior to his death, it seems likely that it was released shortly after. His great friend Mick Fleetwood helps out on drums again, as well as lending a hand with production. That said, it does sound as if Fleetwood's drumming contribution is limited, perhaps being more in the form of programming than actually pounding the skins. This is though very much a solo project, with Bardens contributing virtually all the instrumentation and vocals.

While by no means returning to his Camel days here, Bardens does appear to want to move back towards something more serious than the rather lightweight style which featured on much of his solo work. The opening track "The zone" for example is a soft instrumental with a slow, heavy, almost trance, beat and a fine variety of synth washes. It almost sounds like a backing track for a Patrick Moraz era Moody Blues song, devoid of Justin Hayward's vocals. Bardens does actually sing towards the end of the track, but the vocals are more instrumental than overt.

"She takes me there" does actually have something of a Camel feel, the understated vocals giving the track a dream like quality. Only the rather superfluous programmed hand claps mar what is otherwise a highly likeable piece. The instrumental "Making waves" continues in a similar vein, but sees Bardens becoming more improvisational on keyboards. This track has something of a symphonic feel to it, emphasised by the strings and flute like synth tones.

The most interesting track is undoubtedly the cover of "Spirit of the water", a song which originally appeared on Camel's "Moonmadness" album. Bardens' daughter Tallulah sings lead vocals on this version, completely transforming the piece. While the song lasted a mere 2 minutes in its original form, here it runs for more than double that time, Tallulah's delicate tones demonstrating how Camel might have benefited from taking on a full time lead singer.

Tallulah hangs around long enough to also sing on the following "Hopi Prayer", giving the song the feel of a piece by Enya. While still relatively soft, this is the most upbeat number on the album, the slightly ethnic nature of the arrangement gradually becoming more evident. The strangely titled "No jazz" does in fact have jazz leanings, with a soft funk rhythm, but the foundations remain solidly within a rock context. "Take back your power" is the least distinctive track on the album, being mainly a repetitive chant over a rhythmic but dull keyboards recital. The album closes with "High", which reverts to type (for this album). Tallulah adds some effective ethereal vocals, the song perhaps having the feel of a reggae ballad!

In all, a fine swan-song to the career of Peter Bardens. It is pleasing to report that he left us on a musical high with a suitable epitaph to someone who still had much to offer.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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