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Frank Van Bogaert is from Belgium, and his output is definitely in the tradition of European synthesizer pop music. Not the German kind, with its driving obsessive sequencer patterns, but the “inspirational,” dramatic kind epitomized by Vangelis. You hear the Vangelis imprint everywhere in Bogaert’s music, from the modal melodies and easy-going but insistent rhythms, to the slow buildups into a “big sound” full of emotional appeal.
Bogaert, though, lacks the bombast and pretension of Vangelis. (He also lacks the catchy tunes that Vangelis is famous for.) The Belgian plays long passages which are rather delicate and contemplative, such as the first half of “The drift” (track 2). This is where I think that Bogaert is at his best. This track eventually does build up into one of those big Vangelis climaxes, but that part doesn’t last very long. That musical structure of beginning slow and quiet, then building up into a big climax, is repeated in track after track, which gives Bogaert’s music a kind of predictability. Yet it’s still enjoyable to listen to.
Perhaps the best thing about Bogaert’s music is its upbeat mood. In many of the tracks there is a kind of pastoral, sweet quality (echoed by the peaceful photographs in the CD papers). He can even play the piano like a European version of George Winston. Other tracks have a kind of cheerful, bouncy, sunny, Caribbean-inspired quality. It’s the kind of music you’d hear as background to ads for vacation places. He also puts in a sort of “ad” for his own motto, in track 4, “A State of Mind,” where his North European (Flemish?) voice recites, “Each Day...We Haf, A State of Mindt.” It’s a cute track, in fact the whole album is charming. Having heard hours and hours of gloomy darkest ambient from his countryman “Vidna Obmana,” I’m glad to hear music from Belgium that makes me smile.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.