With the direction and consistent metronomic beat of the 1970s German electronic music of Neu! and Kraftwerk and the ambience and integrity of self-described ‘non-musician’ Brian Eno, Baltic Fleet have a sound that is something to behold. Former keyboardist of Echo and the Bunnymen, Paul Fleming driving from the very heart, their electronic symphonies are transcendent, repetitive melodies building to the ultimate climax. ‘The Dear One’, a purely instrumental offering, encapsulates the very essence of their sound. It is the most immersive of musical experiences.
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‘The Dear One’, Paul Fleming’s third album and second under Baltic Fleet, is the most well-rounded and complete album to date. Produced and created organically, the album employs the extensive manipulation of texture and suspense of Brian Eno, and sets it against the beat and groove of Neu! to create an album with a drive and intensity that soars high above the heights reached by ‘Towers’.
Sublimely cinematic, swelling and evolving under Fleming’s masterful control, it has a remarkable freshness – the sound of leaving past shackles on the path behind. Swift, with its overlapping, shifting rhythms entirely encapsulates this sense of newfound freedom; ominous, repetitive motifs evolving into what begins to sound like a form of laser warfare, motif battling against motif. Every previous creative process from past albums is then left behind in ‘La Cygne’, a cathartic and refreshingly raw symphony, a soundscape created through a process of live takes.
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While the album has such great direction and drive as a whole entity, its eponymous track, ‘The Dear One’ is a force of nature. Produced purely by instruments played by the artist himself with the help of a sole click track, it sounds like some colossal machine. Insistent, reverb-drenched repeating melodies swell over ambient keys and an ever-growing bass, resulting in a soundscape that is almost alive; analogue synthesizers intertwined with ringing, distant guitars roll over a background of live and electronic drums. Placed just before the penultimate track, ‘The Dear One’ is the great climax of the album before moving to ‘La Cyne’.
Gripping, direct and driven, ‘The Dear One’ is a truly stunning work. Letting go of the nostalgia of ‘Towers’, it has a freshness and unchained quality while remaining utterly cinematic in its use of texture, suspense and climax. The album fully encapsulates the very essence of Baltic Fleet, a mighty climax to Fleming’s output so far.