I can surely spare commentaries on Canadian experimental guitarist Aidan Baker, since his solid (and much deserved!) reputation is growing more and more, thanks to an uncommon mix of talent, prolificity and quality.
Over the last few months (those that I have spent waiting to eventually write this review, that is), he has released a disc on Smallvoices, one on Gears of Sand, one on Die Stadt, plus new material of his other projects Arc and Nadja, and surely a lot more I've missed.
This CD-R on Afe Records, coming with the usual nice cardboard cover, is limited to 100 copies (most of them will be gone by now, so hurry up if you're interested), and is surely no leftover material. I would even say that as a whole this is the best disc I heard from him, and I do like his other records a lot.
The five untitled tracks, clocking in at 50 minutes, were recorded using only an acoustic guitar and a set of effect pedals, without any further overdub. Well, Baker must have been in a true state of grace, because this is one of his most hypnotic, but also varied, works.
The first track starts in an almost percussive way, with the use of looped clusters, reaching a dramatic crescendo with the layering of bowed strings. Tracks two and three explore the more serene and intimistic side of his playing, with minimal but effective gestures: plucking, strumming, some delay...
Track four, with its vertigo-inducing repetitions and noise bursts, and the fifth and final one (starting subdued and melancholic, not unlike some Ambarchi, then reaching a climax with a very intense bowing), plunge you back in the ecstatic mood of track one.
Everything is powerful and physical (you do realize this was played live, which is not always a good thing for ambient/drones records), but also very cohesive and focused - witnessing more than ever Baker's uncommon talent and vision.