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Aidan Baker, "Aneira"; Troum & Aidan Baker, "Nihtes Niht"

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cover imageMuch like my approach to Merzbow's prolific schedule, I take a similar tact when indulging in the work of Aidan Baker and Nadja.  There is simply too much material coming out under those guises to stay engaged in without quickly becoming burnt out.  So again, I am happy to infrequently dabble and keep my interest piqued, which is the case with both this solo release and collaboration with noted minimalist project Troum.  In this case, Baker on his own may waiver, but bolstered by collaborators he does extremely well.

Glacial Movements/Alone At Last

Aneira is a single, 47-minute piece sourced exclusively from the use of a 12 string guitar.  Baker chose not to just process the recordings but also to utilize different preparations in his playing of the instrument, to coax out sounds that bear little to no resemblance to what it began with.  Early on there are hints of the source, from the occasional metallic rattle to the scraped sound of a guitar string, however the larger portion of the material is further divorced from its origins.

Most of it sticks to an undulating, understated melody that resonates throughout the entire album.  At times he opts for more clichéd strategies, such as reversed playing that could have been culled from any similar ambient recording.  His use of occasional clattering dissonance juxtaposed with calm passages is more effective and captivating, however, and it is on those moments where it shines.  There are times where it feels it could have benefited from a bit more editing, however.

cover image

On his collaborative recording with German legends Troum, the duo add a different polish and sheen to Baker's sound that helps in spotlighting the beauty that lies within.  Spread across four different songs, there is a more pronounced sense of change and development that works more in the album’s favor.  Both "Nort" and "Ostan" are delicate and understated in their approach, shifting the tone color from minute to minute while retaining the calm, collected feel.  The latter, however, allows some bombastic drama to rise up in its dying moments to excellent effect.

"Westan," on the other hand, leads off immediately with a darker, more aggressive sound.  Instead of light, flowing moments it is bleak and at times uncomfortable and oppressive, emphasizing a sense of tension and menace that is made all the more evident via overdriven noise blasts at the end.  "Sunt" lies somewhere in between, via a slowly building, clean and tone-centric sound that gets a bit spiky via metallic shards and heavily processed sounds, conjuring both light and dark throughout.

While both of these albums are well done, Aidan Baker's collaborations with Troum stands out as a bit more successful, largely due to its combination of pure, distinct sounds with some occasionally ugly moments, but also in its structure of shorter pieces.  Aneira is full of good ideas, but throughout its lengthy duration there does not seem to be quite as much movement or development in comparison and thus there are times where it seems to slowly drag along.  However, both make for excellent parts of his expansive catalog, and definitely rank amongst the more fleshed out and fully realized works.

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Last Updated on Monday, 01 July 2013 19:51  


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