Aidan Baker
Already Drowning


4.5
superb

Review

by Martin L. USER (44 Reviews)
July 10th, 2013 | 21 replies | 3,736 views


Release Date: 04/15/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: more than simply another wave in Baker's sea of releases

To label the Canadian experimental artist “prolific” would be a gross understatement that minimizes Aidan Baker’s contributions to drone, ambient, noise, and all-around minimalist music. Largely improvised, his style is experimental, but never sloppy. Baker is deliberate in whatever he does. While his body of work is, almost inevitably, full of some works that miss the mark and some that near perfection, it’s impossible not to admire what seems to be a true artist at work, for lack of a better descriptor. On his latest effort under his own name, Aidan strikes a different chord - this time in the post-rock arena - and it resonates as deeply as anything he’s released in the past.

Previously, Aidan Baker focused on swells of repetition to establish moods of melancholy, and through minimalism he crafted deep, ethereal sounds that do wonders to establish a mood, an atmosphere. While I won’t claim that his work is the apex of ambient, there’s a case to be made that through his humongous body of work he has located and characterized the aims and meaning of ambient, of drone, by releasing album after album that seem to vary little in terms of actual execution.

But those that criticize him for this continuous stream of releases - “one of those artists that feels the need to release every noodling session he undergoes” - are missing the point. Baker’s work exists as a perfect microcosm for the genres which he inhabits. Ambient doesn’t make its mark by grandiose statements and loud, drastic changes in tenor, but rather by carefully and methodically revealing layer after layer, transporting listeners to a mood or an aura.

It’s odd that I speak so highly of the Canadian’s methods above, because Already Drowning is a brave step to the left of the ground he usually calls home. Not only is there more melody and structure to the tracks, but on each Baker is accompanied by a different woman, singing in a daze to Baker’s compositions. Already Drowning centers around the myths of female water spirits. Naturally, the albums has a tide-like flow to it, transitioning gracefully from one track and one singer to the next. All the while, Baker tastefully implements elements of post-rock and slowcore into his usually-minimalist mix.

For instance, the most acute crescendo appears near the beginning of “Tout Juste Sous La Surface Je Guette (feat. Geneviève Castrée).” Again, the composition of the track buttresses the notion that Aidan, while employing post-rock sentiments for his purposes, is still employing wholly outside of the genre. While many of the other tracks are more subtle in their swells and valleys, the texture of his songs here are much more animate. Each woman breathes fresh life into the song, yet Aidan retains a stoic presence throughout by providing the backbone of alternating ambience and tangible, manifest harmony that meshes perfectly with the soft whispers and crooning. The guitars and strings, like in the beautiful “30 Days / 30 Nights (feat. Jessica Bailiff)” especially, paint a palette that alternates between purples and greys, transitioning between the calm of emptiness and grace, as personified by the lush tones.

It’s difficult to say where Aidan’s next foray will take his sound, but Already Drowning is proof enough that he can apply his well-refined dynamic and recognizable personality towards the softer territory of post-rock (as he demonstrated that he could master the heavier spectrum with Nadja) and still manage to create one of his most gratifying albums yet. It’s odd to note that, for an artist with such an illustrious catalog, the most exciting experiments may still lie ahead, but that’s the case with Aidan.



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user ratings (26)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
mindleviticus
July 9th 2013



8229 Comments


oooo shit new aidan baker gotta get this.

awesome review man

Digging: Cultes Des Ghoules - Henbane

BallsToTheWall
July 9th 2013



44292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

He's really giving it to her.

Digging: Tiamat - Clouds

wabbit
July 10th 2013



6998 Comments


o-kay!

Cygnatti
July 10th 2013



21352 Comments


Lol balls.

Digging: Jon Hopkins - Immunity

WeepingBanana
July 10th 2013



10134 Comments


carouse reviewed it

gonna check it out

carouse
July 10th 2013



300 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good to hear - obviously this is highly recommended.

Cygnatti
July 10th 2013



21352 Comments


I clearly recall gian requesting that I listen to one of his albums, but since my ratings wipe, I'm not sure if I actually did. hmm

eternium
July 10th 2013



16338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Finally this gets reviewed.

Motiv3
July 10th 2013



8931 Comments


this a good starting place for Baker?

Digging: Punch - They Don?t Have To Believe

mindleviticus
July 10th 2013



8229 Comments


no get the sea swells a bit it's the perfect starting place

PunchforPunch
July 20th 2013



6279 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is fantastic

Digging: Robert Hood - Fabric 39

carouse
July 23rd 2013



300 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, this hasn't worn off at all.

Cygnatti
July 23rd 2013



21352 Comments


I hope that one day I'll be able to understand and appreciate the ambient genre, but that day is not now or soon.

carouse
July 23rd 2013



300 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This has more in common with post-rock and even more vocal-centric singer-songwriter stuff than ambient, at many points.

rasputin
July 28th 2013



14541 Comments


one of my favourite records this year, play it nearly every day.

Wizard
August 1st 2013



19375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Myself as well since Nadja has been underwhelming lately.

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sixdegrees
August 2nd 2013



17012 Comments


great album; the guest vocals were incorporated well

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SeaAnemone
November 3rd 2013



20283 Comments


but seriously guys: that fuzz on Tout Juste

Digging: Natural Snow Buildings - The Night Country

LordePots
February 3rd 2014



6576 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Biggest respect boner for this guy

Digging: Alt-J - This Is All Yours

Lotus
March 22nd 2014



506 Comments


so good



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