Thursday, April 3, 2014

James Baker's Beautiful Rose

I've already mentioned in my recent review of MUSCLE's The Pump EP how the aspect of fun is so important to the 80s sound to me. That record was a great example of exactly that ideal. In a similar way the new James Baker EP does a similar thing with the wonderful 80s naïveté that so often captures my mind and heart with this music, a really honest and joyful aesthetic that I find hugely endearing but often seems to be misconstrued into cheese or chintz.

The whole concept of what I term 80s naïveté is the overt happiness that exudes through melodies and arrangements in a spectacularly prominent way. It's not dissimilar to how fun 80s music is, the power of this wonderful naïveté is not about its negative connotations of the dictionary definitions but more about the childlike wonder that is at the essence of much of original 80s synth music. Like an innocence or purity, the 80s naïveté is something very recognisable in the works of producers such as Plaisance, Sternrekorder, Alpha Boy, Smartech and, of course, James Baker.

My love affair with James Baker's music blossomed into a full crush with his amazing track Un Paradis Tropical, which is, to this day, still one of my absolute favourite pieces of music the 80s inspired synth scene has thus far produced. Now with James Baker's Rose EP we're treated to five gloriously sweet and light tracks of synth magic and his delicious, candy coloured music has become even more tantalising to the palette.

The slow moving romantic opening track, 'Papillons', sets an enchanting scene. Each instrument floats and dances in a purely shimmering spectacle of synth fantasy. The lead refrain is the essence of wonder with its part Never Ending Story and part Italo flavour that drips like honey into soda waterfalls in a pasture of lollypop grasses. The magic of the 80s is bottled and sealed in this track alone and a twist of the cap opens up waves of classic synth effervescence.

Things become even more intimate in the follow up 'Belle' which endeavours to fall head over heels into synth romance bliss. James Baker's understanding of 80s melodies combined with a superbly sound construction of his works make for just the right mix of classic sounds in new arrangements as the refrain crests and dives on waves of a pure azure waters bathed in warm, revitalising sunshine.

Next up is the James Baker anthem 'Summer of '83' which continues life on the warm sands of an idyllic coastal retreat. The slightly more disco ambience leads into some super rockin synth horns followed by a glorious homage to late 80s Eurobeat action. The seamless transition brings together different ages of electronic music flawlessly.

'Béton Rose' takes things into a more intimate direction with a new evening sultriness being draped seductively over the tropical aesthetic. Melodies whisper intimate narratives of love in an innocently delicate manner, poetic and carefree with the cool night breeze coming in off the sea. You place your sweater across her shoulders to keep warm and wish your arms were around her too.

James Baker takes a jazzier trip for the final track 'Femme Fatale' as an ever so slight hint of adult passions begin to colours the scene with vivid pinks and seductive reds. The lead refrain contains elements of smouldering longing while keeping things PG rated becomes a full time occupation. The rhythms become infectious and her cheek brushes past your lips in an electrifying sensation of an incredible new world we are but at the threshold of.

Future 80s Records presents James Baker's Rose EP on their Bandcamp page here and it is a release I have found to be wonderfully enchanting in so many aspects. The 80s naïveté is just so poignantly crafted into each of James Baker's compositions that I can't help but be transported into all new worlds, full of pastell and primary colours, gloss coated to a mirror reflection and completely delicious to taste. Synthetix.FM very, very highly recommends this release and I hope you too get to feel the magic that James Baker so eloquently composes into aural candy.

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