|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.