CD Review: Aidan Baker, "Still Life"
Prima CD 002
Aidan Baker is probably best known for his soundscapes that involve droning guitars and ample distortion. But this time out, on his Prima full length Still Life, the Toronto native left the guitars at home altogether. Instead, he performs all of the instruments himself, focusing on piano, electronic manipulations, upright bass, and drums.
Still Life contains four compositions, each exceeding ten minutes in duration, that combine the gradual, inexorable drive of slowcore with inflections of a modern jazz rhythm section and flourishes of avant-classical. Baker doesn't shy away from crunching dissonance where required. A signature example is the opening of "Refuge from Oblivion," where cascades of punctilious piano disrupt the calm surface that pervaded the previous track.
Often, multiple layers of rhythm compete for supremacy, creating a multifaceted, but never cluttered, interplay. All the while, there is a slow-brewing underlying pulse that undergirds the whole with a supply architectural sensibility.
Artists seeking to combine experimental music and jazz should take note of Aidan's fluent amalgamations.