Across Distant Lands
New Age Retailer

An outrageous way to be an armchair traveler, Across Distant Lands takes us on a remarkable journey around the world without ever saying a word. Percussionist extrordinaire Stephan Baer uses over 125 (really!) percussion instruments as well as cymbals, synthesizers and samplers in producing this masterpiece of aural travelogue. Baer, who is Swiss, has traveled all over our fair Mother in search of every percussion instrument he could possibly find and master. The result is a World Beat jewel that literally cooks with sensuous rhythms and exotic melodies. Baer, who is obviously a serious Mage Lord of percussion, composes and plays everything on Across Distant Lands except for a few tracks where he's joined by fellow percussionist and recording artist Jim McGrath. In the course of the 10 tracks on Across Distant Lands you'll get a righteous taste of many, many, distant lands, including Asia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Cuba, Brazil and Australia. The sampled sounds that Baer uses provides a strong vocal expression on several tracks, delightfully evoking the flavor of mysterious lands while still creating totally accessible cuts that beg to be danced to and thoroughly enjoyed. I want to emphasize that, while Across Distant Lands is potently percussion based, there is an ample supply of juicy melodic hooks that makes it far more interesting than the strictly percussion albums I've heard. Baer uses his extraordinary collection of percussion instruments to paint such strong portraits of these distant lands that you, and your customers, will feel as though you've just taken a trip, a journey even, Across Distant Lands. Highly recommended.

--Steve Edge Ryals--

Across Distant Lands
Real to Reel News

Swiss percussionist Stephan Baer takes us on a musical travelogue to the four corners of the world on his debut solo release, Across Distant Lands. While Baer does use synthesizers to set atmosphere, and sampled melodic instruments (piano, flutes, marimbas) as ornamentation, this is nonetheless predominantly a percussion album with an assortment of congas, gongs, shakers, woodblocks, bongos, timbales, and cymbals, as well as mbira and jew's harp, providing a rich rhythmic pallette. Some pieces airlift us to specific locations : "Serengeti" is vibrant with swooping talking drums and clicking agogo bells; "Call of the Monsoons" lands us in India, complete with dusky bansuri flute, nasal Hindu chanting, and snappy tabla; and "Lair of the Anaconda" buries us deep in the Amazon jungle. Others-- such as the watery "Najongo" and the taut "Hunters Quest"-- are not place specific, but all add up to an exciting global tour-de-force for drumming aficionados weaned on the likes of Brent Lewis and Jim McGrath.

Across Distant Lands

Stephan Baer uses percussion to create rich rhythmic backdrops over which he lays ambient synthesizers and sampler melodies. Baer was born in Basel Switzerland, and traveled extensively throughout Europe and Africa, which is evident on the ten cuts from Across Distant Lands, where Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin and European melodies and rhythms merge. It could have been simply a grab-bag of traditions, but it's not. Baer methodically produced Across Distant Lands so that the various musical cultures blend seamlessly into a single world sound. It's an impressive piece of work, and a great introduction to Baer's drumming.

-Paul Bottoms-


Across Distant Lands
Backroads Music

Over 125 instruments were used to create the myriad of rhythms of "Across Distant Lands". Stephan Baer crosses many borders on this album, blending the rhythms of different drums and percussion instruments with diverse cultures in a unique World Beat hybrid that has turned out to be a welcome addition to our varied drumming titles. The voices of Africa mix with Asia, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Cuba Brazil and Australia.
Born and raised in Switzerland, Baer has travelled extensively throughout Eorope and Africa. He use synthesizers and samplers for atmosphere, tribal voice tracks, and spacious melodies that move under, around and thru the layers of popping percussion, which he creates on drums, cymbals, and assorted percussion. Label head and chief drummer Jim McGrath, who has three excellent releases himself, adds assorted percussion on three tracks as well. For those of you that have been waiting for a fully communicative drum release, this is it. From the desert winds and the incessant beats of "Najongo" to the cries and telling rhythms of "Call Of The Monsoon" to the rapid fire of "Kukuri's Run" and "Along The Congo Trail", this is an album that calls to the spirit and responds in kind, unforgettable in its talking drum style.

-Lloyd Barde-