SEA 06 | Aidan Baker | [at the fountain of thirst]
Sonic re-interpretations of four fairy-tale water-spirits or demons;
beings of ambiguous character, often both malevolent and benevolent,
misunderstood and unfairly maligned, sweet and bitter, their stories
re-told in murmuring, flowing dronescapes of deconstructive electric
- Aidan Baker, February
Canadian Aidan Baker is
a writer and musician, and this duality helps him to create his own
brand of peculiar expressive sound notebooks where emotion, grace and
content strongly coexist...
As main instrument for conveying his stories reemerges the guitar in
its vast array of possibilities...
On "At the Fountain of Thirst",
Aidan paints four enchanting psalmodies revolving around cyclic &
looped motives enriched by subtle microsound events...
based on water fairy spirits, these psalmodies are otherwordly, conjuring
up images of the beautiful Ophelia gliding slowly down a nameless river,
wreathed with a rain of fragrant petals, surrounded by hazy marshes
and breeze swept reeds...
a world of glimmers & flickerings...
"At the Fountain of Thirst" is a bouquet
of tone poems for floating back to a deep unknown source, of insidious
lullabies to project you into contemplative reveries...
WEEKLY 343|Frans de Waard
busy bee this Aidan Baker, whose name popped up already
a few times in Vital Weekly. He is both a writer and a musician, although
I am not sure how (and if at all) they are connected. I haven't seen
any of his writings, but his music is quite alright. It tends to be
on the ambient side, and within that genre it comes quite close to the
releases on Hypnos. Certainly, the opening piece of 'At the
Fountain of Thirst' is in that direction. Unlike what one would
suspect though is that Aidan Baker plays guitar. Certainly
not easy to recognize, because it may seem a wash of synths. The four
length pieces on 'Fountain' certainly grow, and culminate in 'Undine'
the final piece in which the guitar in the background sounds like frying
bacon. The rhythmical element is not ignored here either, so all in
all it's a pretty varied release.
Aidan Baker expresses himself in a quartet of ambient-guitar
abstractions, beginning with the meandering swirls of mélusine;
its sonic fluids just churn and glow in soft-yet-bold patterns, gradually
rippling into silence, which is gently broken by the wavering strum-drone
of murkily cyclic rusalka. Even-longer
lorelei (16:26) is spookier as its fluctuating shimmers
fade in and out like a wispy phantom choir riding upon cresting waves
of high and low. "Short" and oh-so-sweet undine
(6:46) rises and falls in pillowy gusts of unidentifiable ooze which
grows more achingly pretty as it evaporates. Lengthy tracks make for
shapesifting mantras in this 49-minute, limited-to-100 cdr is from Belgium's
musician and writer Aidan Baker has had a flurry of
recent releases (on Dreamland, DTA and Mecanoise, among others), exploring
his mostly guitar-based ambient recordings. At the Fountain
of Thirst is probably his most traditionally ambient record
yet, presenting four long tracks of deep, drifting soundscapes in which
to dream, to submerge oneself for a while. Reminiscent in places of,
say, Biosphere, or much of the Hypnos catalogue, with its smooth surfaces,
its suggestions of a slow, seemingly endless voyage in the arctic sea,
of an empty landscape and the wind on your face... In short, it's a
very cold, lonely sort of music, while being strangely comforting at
the same time, well suited for quiet nights, or for drifting off to
sleep. So it's not the most challenging music out there, nor is Baker
showing his more experimental side; he seems content here to provide
simply some deep, calming sounds, and has certainly done a nice job
of it. These deep resonances, ambient washes (they sound like synths
but he is performing almost exclusively on guitar) and slow, sleepy
rhythms are combined, looped and rearranged to transform your living
space into an impressively calming environment.
and tape loops spread through the shapeless beauty of 4 tracks; it’s
a fluctuating sound, gloomy, nocturnal, evocative, often involved and
hermetically closed in itself, but at times even surprisingly ethereal,
soft, evocative. The Canadian guitar player’s aim on ‘Melusine’ to slow
down the more classical ambient to almost stop it, proves just perfect
for this independent label which expects all its artists to generate
drones able to describe the mystery of Mystery Sea, an imaginary sea
of the soul. A mechanic melody made of slightly metallic sounds makes
‘Rusalka’ even precious, an hypnotic trace full of melancholy, a very
unusual track for Mystery Sea. Then Baker comes to
weave mysterious and introspective wefts, and in ‘ Lorelei’, the longest
track in the record, he brings his instrument beyond boundaries thanks
to a solitary, corner-shaped atonality; the drones come along with the
moans of aquatic frequencies and liquid dissonances. ‘Undine’ ends with
loops cycles of strings and background noise. It’s one more record suitable
for explorers of the depth. Another lucky hit by Mystery Sea.
reviewed Baker's ep on Dreamland in 2003_f, and recently
it somehow came to mind that he had also had a release on Public Eyesore,
covered in 2002_17. On this album he creates four wonderfully slow moving
Through 'Melusine' a rounded warm tone loops with hissing puffs, shimmers
and echoes and a deeper bowed note within.
There is a suggestion of melody, resonance, yet subdued and an almost
The loops are gradually added to and there are crisper touches before
the long fade,
but it is a deeply hypnotic glacial development which the other tracks
A soft calling tone, guitar chime loop and bass
pulse run through 'Rusalka', subtly manipulated and slowly diminishing.
A soft slow voicish melody that also gradually changes plays over the
top, with a few chitters and flutters passing through.
There is a sense of slow building as the layers change balance, and
in the last few minutes the surface develops details.
Parts drop out to a final looped call. A contrast is formed in 'Lorelei'
between a strumming loop and layers of pulsing buzzes
and gentle tones. Strange little calls run through, some sounding like
manipulated voice samples, echoed and infrequent.
Gradually a tone music builds, recalling a calliope and enticing more
activity scrapes, jitters and machine rhythms,
resonances and sudden brief loudnesses, drifting. Finally, a different
tack with 'Undine' where a rapid guitar pick loop and
soft percussives build to a cloud of sound for guitar notes to ply across
a fast base and very active.
Long tones develop and gain prominence as the base fades a little, before
guitar loops play the fade.
You must have this record; first of all it contains
Aidan's absolute masterpiece "Rusalka" which,
like the other tracks, is inspired by the tale of a water nymph. Here,
a rhythmical cadence, a melody seemingly generating from water itself
and what sounds like the creature's cry (a guitar loop superimposition,
instead) all together contribute to a state of intense mesmeric emotion.
This gem should not detract from the other beauties like "Lorelei"
or the initial "Melusine", where I'm forced to lower the loudness
level in order to let my room contain the complex morphology of Baker's
spectra. The last composition is "Undine", based on a string-picked
tremolo tapestry where a magic roundabout of lasting memories is left
spinning in the shadow of our own melancholy. Don't let this rare disc
slip away to the oblivion of artistic ignorance.
A la fois musicien et écrivain, le Canadien
Aidan Baker a été flutiste avant de se tourner
vers la guitare qui constitue aujourd'hui encore son mode d'expression
privilegié. Mais àl'instar d'un Main, c'est àmille
lieues du rock que se situent les sons à la fois liquides et
aériens qu'en fait surgir Aidan Baker, pour
mieux nous raconter les histoires qui le hantent. Pour At the
Fountain of Thirst, ce sont quatre esprits de l'eau qu'il ressuscite
pour nous, de Mélusine à Lorelei, d'Undine à Rusalka,
quatre mythes qu'il évoque de maniere purement instrumentale
avec la légèreté d'un pétale flottant à
la surface du bassin tandis que le soir tombe... Néanmoins, ce
sont trois beaux voyages oniriques auxquels nous convie le marchand
de sable AB, et trois bonnes raisons de s'endormir.
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