From Argentina, Bauer brought us their debut album from 2004, Astronauta Olvidado (Forgotten Astronaut in English). Yeah I know it was twelve years ago but I had only discovered them not too long ago so it’s new to me and to you if you’ve never heard of them! Absolutely love this band because their music left me feeling like I was an astronaut floating aimlessly in space amongst a pile of other junk from some explosion in the ship’s hull but survived and left with the debris. Doesn’t sound appealing does it? But it’s that feeling of weightlessness in your brain after hearing this album for the first time. All the lyrics are in Argentinian so unless you habla Espanol you are left to your own devices and imagination to which is where I started my journey floating in space because in Canada, French is the official second language and Spanish isn’t too far off but enough of a difference that I have no clue what he’s singing about. Didn’t matter because it totally captivated me from the first notes of this eleven song album. The vocals are in a reverb cathedral tone that have that angelic sense to them and the rest of band follows though with the tranquility of sound that holds your body in a state of not moving and you don’t want to once the music starts. This album is a definite listen to especially when you have nothing else to do and want to drift through space. Great usages of all the Prog elements here and execution of long songs and shorter ones that keep you detailed and lost all at the same time. I never really paid any attention to the lyrics, primarily because I don’t speak Spanish but I never really wanted to know what they were singing about feeling that it would ruin my listening experience so I never ventured down that road.
The first song, “De Las Nubes Al Sol” enters in quietly and comes across more like a lament to something but picks up shortly after the vocals commence then alternating between ups and downs throughout the song. Not every album you hear has to be epic, grand scale and explosive to be great and Bauer proves this continuously in their album here with great dedication to their sound infusing every influence they’ve had from childhood to recording studio. The entire album maintains a mellow passage from start to finish incorporating some crescendos and high points but always keeping the peace with the tonality as one of serenity and placidity. By the time you get to the next two songs, “El Verano Del Cohete” and the title track “Astronauta Olvidado” you’re in a state of pastoral armistice that you aren’t going anywhere for a while and just absorbing this record as you stare at the cover to it. What looks like a hand drawn cartoon from a napkin at a restaurant during a think tank session over lunch as to what to put on the cover this comes up and it becomes the Occam’s Razor for the artwork right there.
Sometimes the simplest answer is the best and this is a great example of that. When an album has TOO much artwork I find that it sometimes, not always, draws away from the musical experience somehow and you lose some connection in the translation. Only three songs dip slightly under the five minute mark and yet they still seemed to feel much longer when played so getting lost within their music is inevitable and enjoyed. The band comprising of four friends from high school played for fun at first until the acquisition of a new drummer in 2002 and then they re-invented themselves as serious and started being who they have become. Releasing an Ep, “Klee” in 2002 and finally this full Lp in 2004 they followed up with 2006’s, “En Otra Ciudad” that contained some more heavier compositions and not as mellow as Astronauta Ovidado. The next few songs have a variance in speed from medium to dead slow but never lose its ambiance or intensity albeit mellow they still keep you on that slow floating equilibrium of sound. “Novelty“, “La Manana Verde” and “Zurich Queda en Paris” all play out like a slow motion scene in a movie where high speed is pulled back to what looks like a crawl. Thoughts of early Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Mogwai come to mind as you listen to this album take its place in the Halls of Prog in the Cosmic Galleries for sure. Sadly the link to their homepage no longer exists so whether or not the band is still active and writing is unknown. Gaining some cult following and popularity in Argentina and some of the bordering countries Bauer may not have garnered much attention outside of South America which is a shame because they could have brought forth a great sound to the global world of Prog. Very much like Prog-Jazz-Fusion German band Kraan who really never toured outside of their home country, Bauer could very well have kept that concept if they haven’t folded up their tents and gotten out of Dodge already.
“Falla En El Transbordador” carries on with mellifluent tone of the album. Perhaps too mellow but for some reason it just has to be so. The last minute finally sees the entrance of drums and other instruments aside from vocals and piano and builds up to its finale. Nothing tremendous but enough to say goodbye at the end. The next song, “Vendran Lluvias Suaves“, the first song I heard by them and one of my favourites on the album is what paused my life in a lull when it graced my ears. The guitar work here reminded me of Gilmour’s tone and notations in “Shine on you Crazy Diamond Parts i-v” and it is here I felt weightlessness and floating aimlessly in space. This is truly an Sunday afternoon stay inside it’s raining out album. It has that seventies feel to it and the ethereal sound of the keyboards takes you in to the atmospheric levels where you meet the vocals that gently push you in to the nether regions of space. There is no main lead instrument here but the drums and guitar are the wings in which you are carried to the stratosphere of earth and let go. It all falls in to place on this album. “Durmiendo En La Nieve De Gerry” one of the longest songs on here that starts slow, mellow, hypnotizing and gradually the climate becomes more accelerated and in the end a swelling eruption till the bitter end that fades away.
“Hemos Traido Muchas Rocas Lunares” starts to close our journey here as the second last song on the album and gives us a sense of the end in this lullaby type song that concludes with single guitar notes picked and ringing out before we reach the finale epic, “Un Camino A Traves Del Aire“. In keeping with Prog traditions of having the longest song saved for last if it didn’t make the middle of the record Bauer went classic and kept it till the end. Halfway through the timbre changes and a discordance erupts in the song and a darker tone takes shape unnerving the balance of the rest of the album with a cacophony of what reminds you of the ending of “I Want You(She’s So Heavy)” by The Beatles with its rotating repetitions of notes, drops, swirls and rawness that is refusing to relent here disrupting the spacial expedition you’ve just endured.
You are the Astronauta Olvidado here and the album leaves you out there forever drifting away in silence.
Fading away to a standstill of the last note played by the keyboards and then nothing.