By: Owen Coggins
Aidan Baker | Website | Facebook | Bandcamp |
Released on October 14, 2016 via Midira Records
A new collaboration by three noted drone guitarists and experimenters, recorded in a live improvised session. It’s a double LP (limited to 250) with four side-long tracks, with the three musicians drawing on all their subtle, slow and patient droning skills.
‘Ritual I’ is low-key and treated with a light touch. Pastel shades are delicately mixed in, though without ever being insistent the low bass does become powerfully evident. Shimmering gleams appear towards the end, and it’s a very restrained piece: it’s surprising to remember this is made by three guitars rather than one. Hints of brittle melody are eventually coaxed from the ambience towards the end of the track, as if they were rare and shy entities that only come out when calmed by the drones.
The beginning of ‘Ritual II’ matches seamlessly with its predecessor, but soon features a soft pattering rhythm which grows organically out of the sound rather than appearing from external sources. It reminds me a bit of some of the film soundtrack work of Philip Glass, a sort of vaguely exoticized, monolithic rhythm’n’drones electronica that uses warm fuzzy sounds in its extended slow tones, but avoids bland cosiness through its slightly cold and mysterious outer-space rhythmic trajectory. Wherever they’re taking us with this track, a satisfactory arrival appears to take place about two thirds of the way through, where the thrumming of the propellers resides and we gradually glide to a floating stasis in carefully controlled drifting, spiral drones.
The third track, the shortest of the bunch at a mere ten minutes, has a nice interplay where each player seems to take a different area of sound- piercing, glancing, angled notes at the top, mid-range clanging chimes, and a low, subaquatic paddling. Then at last, ‘Ritual IV’ is where it all comes together for an absorbing finale. It has the considered composition of the previous pieces, but incrementally cuts loose more and more with the crunching and skreeking noise around the edges of the notes. A few searing notes and controlled feedback arcs begin to spiral away over a solid, thick foundation. After the first three pieces of careful atmospherics, the power of amps, distortion and feedback are used to full effect in creating a densely textured wandering journey. Definitely the highlight for this listener, it rounds off four varied and accomplished sides of atmospheric experimentation.