AIDAN BAKER – Liminoid / Lifeforms

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The suspect that Aidan Baker’s droning structures could be suitable for an orchestral setting is partially confirmed by “Liminoid”, a track recorded live in Toronto which sees him guiding an octet comprising three guitars, two drum sets, two cellos and a violin, all instrumentalists also credited with vocals. The merging of acoustic and electric features gives birth to a slight pitch instability loosely connected with just intonation, although the piece was not conceived for that kind of tuning. As the movements succeed one is reminded of certain references, obviously totally involuntary: the introduction recalls the prologue to King Crimson’s “Exiles” on Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, the subsequent hypnotic rhythms have nothing to envy to the Tony Conrad of yore. The “silence-at-dawn” atmosphere characterizing the beginning of the third movement is excellent despite the following “Nick-Mason-cum-consonant counterpoint” leniency. On the contrary, I’m not particularly fond of the Coptic Christian invocation leading to screaming chaos by which the spell is ruptured in the next subdivision; the strings – layered upon a square Velvet Underground-meets-Pink Floyd scansion – restore a modicum of trance until conclusion. In general, an interesting set with a few flaws; in any case it’s good to observe the Canadian charmer attempting different paths.

“Lifeforms” is a quartet (Baker on guitar, Alan Bloor on amplified metal works, Mika Posen on violin and Nick Storring on cello). This track’s sonority is much closer to the familiar growth of accumulated frequencies typical of the man’s best work, even if the irregularities produced by strings and metals prevent the music from landing in “catatonic gaze” territory. Stratified loops constitute the essential foundation, whose gradual swelling is effectively engrossing. Dissonant echoes contrasting the overall stasis introduce a phase of pulsating concordance punctuated by beautiful little curls by Posen and Storring. A marvellous juxtaposition of tolling resonances pushes the whole towards a sort of twisted Eastern folk dance in what’s probably the disc’s highest point: melodies depicting a dwindling vital force and underlying drones get happily married in a gorgeous ending, alone worth of owning the record.

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