aidan baker

Aidan Baker
Book of Nods
Beta Lactam Ring

It never ceases to amaze me as to how many artists / bands / musicians are out there irrespective of the vast catalogues they have produced or for however long they’ve maintained a steady trajectory on the cusp of cutting edge sounds that we are humbly in total ignorance of. Toronto based (classically trained flutist) musician and writer Aidan Baker is one such soul. Since 2000 he has continued to mine the voids of sonic manipulation mainly with an interest in drone-scapes and post rock, by all accounts a workaholic (this year alone his tally of credits has already pushed past the release of a half dozen albums) he has produced a vast body of recorded work over the period not only with his own solo project but as a duo with Leah Buckareff (as Nadja) and as part of the trios Arc and Mnemosyne .

‘Book of Nods’ is the first of several Beta Lactam Ring releases that’ll be dotted across these pages over the next few days and we must admit that there are a fair few good ‘uns in the mix with outings for Nurse with Wound, Anakrid and Andrew Liles with David Menche to name just three.

Limited to just 500 numbered copies, ‘book of nods’ is a 42 minute four track ambi-drone suite, released as part of Beta Lactam Ring’s ongoing Black Series, this hulking release serves as an immense monolithic aural sculpture, the application of treated guitars lends itself to a sound more prevalent of those crucial early releases put out by Kranky – clearly identifying with (and for fans of) the likes of Stars of the Lid, Fontanelle and LeBradford.

Baker’s craft is one of measured artistry, from the onset of the opening ’love’ with its serene ebbing and flowing calm dusted by the merest of percussive accompaniment, replete with staccato dimples and overlapping twin reverberations he relocates the listener upon a self constructed and strange hermetically sealed micro-verse odyssey, once the initial passages of the nimble guitar overlays dissipate the hazily lilting textures blur to an extent that Baker’s sublime guitar treatments assume an understated choreography wherein it begins to get difficult in differentiating what is guitar based and what’s not.

The set doesn’t lend itself keenly to the tracks being listened to on a stand alone basis so to speak, its only when listened to overall and in its entirety that you begin to see, hear and experience the slow evolution of the piece overall, its not a speedy process either its achingly slow hypnotic looping cycles hum with an almost meditative air that frankly at times you need to pinch yourself occasionally in order to prevent yourself dropping off – and that is by no means a meant to be conceived or read as a criticism, the apt title ’book of nods’ ushers an unearthly elegance, sometimes bleak sometimes lost, these parched panoramic melodic mausoleums dutifully assume a stirring cathedral like reverence, the cavernous structures like fading epitaphs transmitting with a lost hope into an endless sea of silence are bruised with a futile beauty

The cavernous ’survival’ in particular seemingly a force of nature bleakly pining into the void is much reminiscent of Roy Montgomery’s more atmospheric based mirages braided as it is by a solemn doom laced piano canter. Bit by bit the aural additions are teasingly applied to the canvas to slowly build in texture and depth, the plateau coming mid way through ‘obsession’ wherein the skin peels back to reveal a somewhat sunnier disposition though obviously when we refer to sunnier we are applying that description with reference to what’s gone before. In tow comes a lunatic persona gently grazed by the arrival of tripping drum motifs and the appearance of the unexpected onsets of flute florets themselves ushering in a moment of fried jam like pastoral crookedness. Journey’s end comes with the arrival of the momentously parting ‘Good and Evil’, a 15 minute free forming galactic hybrid of sweet cacophony whose multi layered core freewheels between elements of jazz signatures, psychotropic cerebral sheens and honey glazed celestial glazes all frosted and framed in porcelain aural apertures that erupt like pocket crescendos. Need we say more. Peerless.

Key tracks –

Good and evil


Published – july 2008

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