Baltic Fleet – Towers

A fine record and one that is a charming listen. While not pulling up any trees or making any statement about why it should inform this particular zeitgeist is a one you should listen to You’ll probably end up playing it on repeat.

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Baltic Fleet is back with another LP of unobtrusive widescreen soundscapes, mixing their cinematics with various tricks from and traces of Krautrock and JJ Jarre, not to mention the things David Holmes was producing in the mid ‘90s.

This is very much more than the sum of its parts though; Towers is a brilliant record, deceptively simple as I found out when I realised I’d played it pretty much non-stop over a weekend without noticing I'd done so. It’s one that can operate on a number of levels: but as an unobtrusive, charming background listen it’s a killer LP, one of those things that steals gently round the house and pricks your interest while you’re attending to the spuds or looking for your socks. This isn’t to demean it in any way, rather it’s a record that comes without any hang ups or demands on your psyche and you can feel you can listen to it however you wish.

The opener Towers has a beautiful, wistful toy piano part that chimes and swoops over the rest of the track: it’s a trick Fleming uses a lot in his pieces, allowing a melody line to take the lead before the rest of the track hoves into view. In that Fleming’s using the conceits that traditionally ran chart-bound, classic pop: The Wilds could be this moody piece but it can also be a very nice early/classic synth pop instrumental with a definite nod to Kommetenmelodie. March of the Saxons is a purposeful tread which distils around a lot of keyboard interplay, but it’s initially anchored by a catchy sludgy bass loop, and that’s what sticks in your mind. Headless Heroes of the Acropolis is a funny function room disco mix of Simples Minds’ Theme For Great Cities and some outtake off Oxygene, it’s a remarkably poppy and flirty piece. Engage carries on this assertive disco flirting, albeit with a straight “motorik” (yawn, sorry) beat. Again there’s that little keyboard arpeggio riff that is almost stitched into the track – the keys sometimes sound like Bunnymen guitar riffs, too, simple, slightly psyched, menacing and brutally to the point. The moody Hunting Witches could be a Glide track, given that guitar run.

Paul Fleming’s music has always had a romantic, widescreen feel to it; maybe that’s why he was the Bunnymen’s keyboardist. Sometimes the core quietness of the music wins through and allows the bathos that lies under the surface of most of his music to shine through. Winds of the 84 Winter and Reno are marvellous examples, all sad laments and wallflower regrets. Midnight Train has a weariness about it too, despite the occasionally jaunty keys and treated guitar.

So there you have it; a fine record and one that is a charming listen. While not pulling up any trees or making any statement about why it should inform this particular zeitgeist is a one you should listen to You’ll probably end up playing it on repeat.