Fresh off his recent release of “The Bit” (Gizeh Records), a minimalist drone jazz meets experimental neo-classical collaborative album with Simon Goff and Thor Harris, experimental artist Aidan Baker (also of drone / post metal duo NADJA) is about to release another testament of distinct musical path and talent. On “There/Not There” (Consouling Sounds), Aidan is joined by Dana Schechter (from Insect Ark, Swans, Angels of Light, Bee And Flower, etc.) on bass & Fiona McKenzie (from Halma) on drums, to deliver an exceptional collection of tracks filled with minimalist post-rock and slowcore, mixed with ambient and textural noise. Today, we have caught up to give you some first-hand insights from the mastermind himself, Aidan.
“There / Not There” combines Baker’s interest in minimalistic post-rock and textured ambient noise, the ‘songs’ themselves on this album numbering among the first Baker wrote at the beginning of his career but as yet never properly recorded. Rather than recording all parts himself, as Baker has done with previous albums, and in an effort to give the album more of a band sound and feel, he invited drum and bass contributions respectively from Fiona McKenzie (also of Halma) and Dana Schechter (also of Insect Ark, Bee And Flower, Angels of Light, Swans). Although recording of the tracks began in 2019, given the circumstances of the 2020 pandemic the album was completed via file-sharing and not in person, the tracks assembled and mixed at Baker’s Broken Spine Studios in Berlin, Germany. Simon Scott, drummer in Slowdive and also a contributor to Baker’s 2012 album “The Spectrum of Distraction” (Robotic Empire), mastered the album. Cover photos for the album, images of Toronto and small town Ontario, by Leah Buckareff.
For fans of: Slowdive, Flying Saucer Attack, Tim Hecker, Red House Painters, etc.
Following on from 2017’s Noplace album, The Bit treads a similar path in terms of the recording process as the trio spent a day improvising at Voxton Studios in Berlin whilst on a European tour. The result was then edited and moulded into six hypnotic tracks that ebb and flow with beauty and ease.
The Bit finds the trio painting with a lighter touch than on its predecessor. Thor Harris’ motorik beats still underpin the music but the atmospherics take a more prominent role and there is a pure and cohesive path to be found throughout the record. Much like on Noplace, Baker’s guitar and Goff’s violin weave together beautifully, forming a deep bed of melody, ambience and reverb.
Given the trios credentials it’s not surprising they have created another immersive and stunning record.
For fans of: Godspeed You Black Emporer, Bohren & The Club of Gore, Nils Frahm, etc.
Aidan Baker is a prolific Candian musician. There / Not There is an album of minimal post-rock and ambient noise. It features some tracks that Baker wrote very early in his career. Baker usually records all instruments himself but here, to get more of a band feel, he got a drummer and bassist in. If you’re into bands such as Slowdive, Codeine, Red House Painters, Flying Saucer Attack and Bark Psychosis then this is for you. – Norman Records
Words by Aidan Baker
The two structured songs on “There / Not There” actually date back to the beginning of my career and while I have tried recording them before, I never captured them in a way I was happy with. These versions, though, mixed with and into some heavy, noisy, but atmospheric textural guitar drones felt more successful to me, and properly representative of my interests in shoegaze and slowcore with ambient/experimental music. I invited Dana Schechter and Fiona McKenzie to play bass and drums, respectively, on the songs to give them more of a naturalistic band feel, even if the individual parts were recorded separately and the album completed post-lockdown.
With Hypnodrone Ensemble’s “Gets Polyamorous” we wanted to try a different approach to making a record and began by sharing simple guitar riffs/drones with the different musicians that have joined us in the various cities we have performed in over the years, inviting each to successively record their contributions and from there construct the tracks via file-sharing. As all our previous releases have either been documents of live performances or excerpts of improvisational live-in-studio sessions, this was a very different method for us and I think resulted in quite a different album. Perhaps not as freeform and intuitive as our live improvisations, but maybe a bit more focused and concise, whilst still maintaining our space-/drone-rock sound and aesthetic—as well as illustrating how the group changes with different members contributing. Dave, one of the drummers, introduced me to The Source Family Band a few years ago and the title and cover artwork is something of a tongue-in-cheek nod to Father Yod, even if the music doesn’t really sound like anything The Source Family produced…
When the pandemic first hit and the initial lockdown happened—even if it was not so strict here in Germany as it was in other European countries, like France or Spain—I found it quite hard to get motivated to work on music. I think this was largely because of the uncertainty of everything—not just whether live shows or touring would happen again, but whether the entire music industry, or even the arts in general, would continue to exist as something society would want and need. It quickly became clear that people still wanted arts and entertainment in their lives—perhaps needed it to soothe their own uncertainties!—and I felt able to start working on things again. Given that I had more free time, not being out on the road, I did find myself initiating several collaborative, file-sharing projects with artists that I’ve wanted to work with for awhile. Most of these are still in varying states of progress, but one that has been completed is my album with Turkish artist Ekin Fil, “The Dark Well,” released digitally by A Red Thread and soon as a limited CD by Torn Light Records.
Concerts are slowly starting to happen again here in Germany under fairly strict conditions…but it is great to be able to hear and play live music again. Initially, when everything was being cancelled, I was pretty worried as touring and live performances make up the majority of my income—but I was quite lucky to both get some artists’ funding from the city of Berlin and secure a few soundtracking and mixing/mastering jobs which mean I do not have to tour to support myself. To be quite frank, it is a bit of a relief not to be obliged to go and tour constantly—certainly I miss the live experience, but I don’t miss how grueling touring can be and respite (even if it’s a forced one) is kind of welcome. It could also be said that the lack of concerts will make people appreciate live music more—certainly in Berlin, in recent years, there has been a sense of over-saturation and people weren’t so interested in attending concerts because there were so many…
New & Old Music Tips
Here are a few things I have been listening to a lot recently, some of the new, some of them not: