Space Age Travellers have Adventures In The Shadows

After 35 years as a musician and, following a request by an American guitar tutor company to contribute to lessons on fifties and sixties guitar styles and methods, Dutch guitarist BJ Baartman found that he enjoyed writing in the style of his heroes so much that he recruited a bassist and drummer and they ended up recording fifteen new tracks that encompass jazz, rock, surf and even a bit of the old Morricone soundtrack styles. Needing a name for this new venture, he came up with Space Age Travellers, perhaps inspired by one of the tracks included or a similarly space age track from the lessons he wrote. Regardless, that is the name and the new album is called Adventures In The Shadows. Guessing here, but I think there may be a suggestion that the title and selected content owes some of its direction to Hank and the boys although it flies in many other directions too, taking in guitar wizards like Ry Cooder, Brian Setzer and Jeff Beck. BJ has also been absorbing the guitarists who inspired those heroes…Duane Eddy, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, Django Rheinhardt, Dick Dale and their peers. I also seemed to hear a touch of the style of the mysterious and underrated Marcel Dadi…check his Fingers Crossing album to hear some serious picking! In a similar vein but more Americana based, BJ also has an album called Slapback to the Future on release.

Now, to the music on this release, although as they’re all instrumentals, I won’t detail every track and only extract some highlights…starting with a sub 1.5 minute Shadows work out called Phoneline, you cannot help but fall into the memories it induces, although with some of the bends he employs it suddenly sounds a little more modern…great fun. Billy Minor reveals some clever bass string picking as he employs some Django sliding chords; this leads quickly into Los Dedos, which turns into a gentle and simple piece backed with brushed drums and sparse bass. The centrepiece is a neat solo using volume and hammering to make it a little different. Wes Mongomery’s style and touch feeds into the phrasing on Pay My Dues as the rapid picking and hi-hat bring some distinct 50s feel and technique into the spotlight. Havana Blue slows the pace with echoed and simple picking and chords before the Spanish/Latin chord, pick and strum combination expand the sound. Costa California has the surf feel with some more Latin thrown in for good measure and the Dick Dale/Hank Marvin sound is actually quite brilliant. Rollercoaster is just that with its slower start before some glistening chords take us on a brief ride. Poppa Bebop is just as it sounds…some instrumental jiving rock and roll. The original Rumble by Link Wray makes its presence felt in Space Age Rumble and has, if you listen closely, neat extras such as strumming the strings behind the bridge (or next to the headstock). The title track, unsurprisingly, has Hank all over it and the way the drums and bass evoke the same sound is great. Final, and longest track at over four minutes, is Theme From The Baritones which, I’d guess, is a pun on the Sopranos TV show and with slow chord picking and harmonics it is a gentle and yet expansive way to round the album off.

As with a lot of pure instrumental albums, it isn’t really a one sitting sort of choice but with the player on shuffle, when one of these crops up it will be enjoyed and not skipped. BJ has put together some entertaining reflections on an era and each track has merit, so if you like to listen to examples of, and exercises in, expertly crafted 50s and 60s guitar, then you will enjoy this a lot… just not all at once.

SEVENpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track listing:

  1. Phoneline
  2. Billy Minor
  3. Los Dedos
  4. Pay My Dues
  5. Havana Blue
  6. Costa California
  7. The Sixth Dance
  8. Go Gaddum
  9. Mingus Desert
  10. Rollercoaster
  11. Poppa Bebop
  12. 347 Street Scene
  13. Space Age Rumble
  14. Adventures In The Shadows
  15. Theme from the Baritones

All tracks written

by BJ Baartmans

Musicians:

BJ Baartmans: Guitars

Gerco Aerts: Bass

Sjoerd van Bommel: Drums



The album was produced, recorded and mixed May 2018 at Studio Wild Verband, Boxmeer by BJ Baartmans

Space Age Travellers have Adventures In The Shadows

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