Tag Archives: aidan baker

[Archive 2.12.14]

The Upstate Soundscape, 2.12.14


1) Orphx, “Secret 13 Mix 050 (excerpt)”


2) Jeremy Nathan Dziedzic, “69°39’59″N 37°34’57″E” The Upstate Soundscape Vol III: Winter 2014
3) Hobo Cubes, “Subtle Sleep” Structurte of Stasis (Debacle Records)
4) Damian Valles, “Five” Excursions (BLWBCK)
5) VWLS, “Under Deep Cover, Lost in Light”
6) Cian, “Date and Time” Gemlux (Umor Rex)
7) Je Suis France, “Feeder Band” Afrikan Magik (Antenna Farm Records)
8) AlphaStare, “15Kg Nitrate 1”
9) Dolly Dolly with Ekoplekz, “No Stars (Rekplekz)” AnitMacassar (Exotik Pylon)
10) Actress, “Gaze” Ghettoville (Werk Discs)
11) Prolife, “Gold Leaves” Overheated (Sacred Bones)
12) Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, “Phoebus Palast” Lover Boy (Ballbearing Pinatas)
13) Aidan Baker, “Doors as Possible” Souvenirs of the Eternal Present (Anthem Records)
14) A Winged Victory for the Sullen, “Atomos VII” Atomos (Erased Tapes/Kranky)

[Archive 1.29.14]

The Upstate Soundscape, 1.29.14



1) Nathan McLaughlin, “The Window So Cold” The Upstate Soundscape Vol. III: Winter 2014
2) Hobo Cubes, “Infatuation” Structures in Stasis (Debacle Records)
3) Patrick Cowley, “Primordial Landscapes” School Daze (Dark Entries)
4) Spike and Horn, “Grace Vandals” The Upstate Soundscape Vol. III: Winter 2014 (kyle butler)

5) in-studio mix:
Iasos, “Crystal White Fire Light” Celesital Soul Portrait (Numero)
“Ultimate Thunderstorm” Environments: Totally New Concepts in Sound (Syntonic Research)
Adrian Rew, “3/31/13 – Horseshoe Casino, Cleveland, OH” Slot Machine Music (Ergot)
Nichaolas Szezepanik, “Not Knowing” Tangents-001 (Desire Path Recordings)
Eli Kezler, “Untitled” Livingston (Rare Youth)
Mike Parker, “Voiceprint: Voice Three” Dispatches (Geophone Records)
Northern Spy Records, “Thanksgiving Dinner”
Aidan Baker, “Pure I” Pure Drone (Beta Iactam Ring Records)
Janeck Schafer, “Radio 111 FM” (12K)
Orphan Fairy Tale “Dragons of the Deeps” My Favorite Fairy Tale (Aguirre Records)
Nonhorse, “Live at The Tinnitus Suites”

6) Klop, “Tailed Adder” To Mould the Deceiver’s Song
7) Explosions in the Sky, “Alone Time” Prince Avalance OST (Temporary Residence)
8) The Beta Band, “The Hard One” S/T (Regal/Astralwerks)
9) Rutherford Chang, “The Beatles: Side 1 x 100 (excerpt)”

[Archive 04.03.13]

The Upstate Soundscape, 04.03.13



1) Aidan Baker, “Drone II” Drone Compendium One: Pure Drone (Beta-Lactam Ring Records)
2) Beta Cloud, “Marsh of Sleep” Lunar Monograph (Laughing Bride Media)
3) Eschaton, “Live from Christ’s Church, Part III”
4) La Monte Young, “For Brass” Roots of Drone
5) No Shoes and One Sock, “Raise the Djed”
6) Third Eye Laptop Orchestra, “Live in St. Petersburg”
7) Gang Gang Dance, “Dancehall” S/T (Fusetron)
8) Svamps, “King Felix III” Zebra (Digitalis Recordings)
9) Burnt Hills, “Side A” Live at the Elevens (Flipped Out Records)
10)  Black Pus, “Hear No Evil” All My Relations (Thrill Jockey)
11) All of Them Witches, “Toyotal Recall” Breathers vs. Drivers
12) Nick Keupfer, “Ladybug on a Window, Spray paint on a Deer Caracas  Live of CKUT Montreal’s Sessions (Free Music Archive)

[Mixed Up Monday: Aidan Baker, ‘Needle Exchange 112’]

Here is a mix from Nadja member and Toronto expat Aidan Baker. Now living and working out of Berlin, Baker made this mix for the Self-Titled Daily website last autumn.


Aidan Baker of Nadja – Needle Exchange 112:
1. Neil Young – Guitar Solo One (Dead Man Soundtrack)
2. Swans – Mother Of The World (The Seer)
3. Stereolab – Jenny Ondioline (edit) (Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements)
4. My Bloody Valentine – Cigarette In Your Bed (You Made Me Realize EP)
5. Nico – Frozen Warnings (The Marble Index)
6. Thrones – Obolus (Sperm Whale)
7. Bailter Space – Hard Wired (Thermos)
8. Trans Am – Carboforce (Surrender To The Night)
9. The Flaming Lips – The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine (Embryonic)
10. Public Image Ltd – Flowers Of Romance (Flowers Of Romance)
11. Wendy Carlos – Rocky Mountains (The Shining Soundtrack)
12. Angelo Badalamenti – Moving Through Time (Twin Peaks – Fire Walk With Me Soundtrack)

From Self-Titled Daily website:

Summers in Berlin are pretty quiet.

Autumns are busy; I was on the road in October for three weeks doing a solo tour with Noveller and later this week, Leah and I head out for a two week Nadja tour to promote our new record, Dagdrøm, which we are releasing on our own label, Broken Spine Productions (with some kind assistance from Badabing RecordsDekor Labor, and Bis Auf’s Messer). These last few months I’ve been busy rehearsing, mixing and mastering new material, assembling record sleeves, packaging up mailorders, installing art exhibitions, trying to find the time to see other people play shows and, of course, playing my own shows.

I’m not complaining; it’s good to be busy. But my mental focus and energies are maybe a little bit scattered…and maybe that’s reflected in my disparate choice of tunes in this mix. But these are all bands and songs that I’ve been listening to recently for whatever reason—mixing heaviness and spaciousness, wistfulness and aggression, whimsy and seriousness—and corresponding to a mercurial time, place, and season…

 Nadja has a new album out too that just got a good review in Pitchfork. 

[Review: Aidan Baker, ‘The Specturm of Distraction’]

Aidan Baker‘s opus The Spectrum of Distraction is a monumentally ambitious work from the Toronto artist that was produced in collaboration with a number of percussionists who are well-known and well-respected within the fields of heavier and more artistically enterprising groups such as Swans, Slowdive, the Jesus Lizard, and Killing Joke. With a group like this, it needs not be said that the drumming throughout the two-hour album is nothing short of fantastic. Each of these players vigorously displays their virtuosity across a wide swath of songs that take from such genres as metal, no wave, jazz, reggae, industrial, shoegaze, and more.

The overall album is a massive testament to seeing an idea carried out to its fullest potential. That idea is to have an almost overwhelming group of tracks that can be chopped up and reassembled endlessly to take full advantage of the ‘shuffle’ function of most modern music players and create something that is new and unique each time it is played. Many artists are influenced by literature, usually something pretentiously highbrow, but Baker was instead influenced by the ‘choose your own adventure’ style of children’s books, right down to song titles that suggest a plot without forcing such themes down the throat of the listeners. This approach is stretched out over the course of 96 songs that range in length from three seconds to seven minutes.

The album is split up into two parts. The ‘OCD’ side tends to be the more ‘clean’ sounding, as a number of the songs are bereft of the heavily distorted guitars that populate the ‘ADD’ side. There are a number of highlights here, such as the droning “The Deadly Shadow” that is powered by gymnastic drumming. It’s a powerful piece of juxtaposition to have a dynamic rhythm section overlapped by instruments that stay the same while changing, much like the water in a river constantly re-configures itself while it flows. Elsewhere, “Invaders From Within” combines herky-jerky rhythms with a repetitive guitar figure that sounds like Burning Spear playing the blues. “The Green Slime”, with its fuzzed-out bass and guitars heavy with delay comes off sounding like Mission of Burma if they were re-imagined as a jam band, as the bass holds down the groove while the drums shake and shimmy, allowing the guitars to fluctuate and build into a hypnotic trance. Likewise for “Space & Beyond”, which finds its trance in the constant cymbal splashes and tom-heavy drumming. Combined with the buzzy guitar that seems to appear out of cheesy sci-fi movie, you get the soundtrack of tribal warfare on some far-off world. “Forgotten Days” builds its suspense by layering several instruments that are largely playing out of time with each other, like a song that everyone is expecting to begin but never does. Right at the end where it appears as though all of the instruments have aligned and are about to start playing together, the song suddenly cuts off. However, due to the concept of the album, it trickles into a completely different song instead. “You Are Microscopic” is a piece of sublime beauty, where endlessly circling slices of guitar turn into a near-impenetrable wall of glorious noise as the drums spur them on, and it slowly transforms into something far more sinister. What started out as something lovely becomes something frightening. “Killer Virus” is understatedly creepy and ominous, a portent of bad news that falls on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, the ‘ADD’ side mostly revels in a sheen of metallic thunder. A good number of these songs sound like they were pulled off any number of doom, stoner, or sludge metal albums, with their ridiculously heavy, nearly impenetrable textures of fuzz. “Mystery of the Secret Room” features a simple pentatonic riff that sounds like AC/DC on some bad meth, with another section sounding like a classic punk track from the late 1970s. “Trouble on Planet Earth” combines a dub baseline from hell with squiggly guitar murmurs and minimalist drums. “Blood on the Handle” is one of many tracks that features a headbanger of a riff that morphs into something a bit more subdued and spooky. “Race Forever” upends its own title with a preposterously slow, sludgy riff that seems pulled straight off Sleep’s legendary “Dopesmoker” album. “The Planet Eater” is like the “Stairway to Heaven” of the entire project, as it builds up more and more over seven minutes from quiet tinkling of the keys to an unstoppable tidal wave of pure noise by the end. “The Antimatter Formula” borrows a swinging, jazzy rhythmic background and lays an unnerving chord progression atop it that goes in bizarre directions and modulations before settling into a more typical Sabbath-y stop-start groove complete with the aerobic drumming a la Bill Ward. “Beyond the Great Wall” calls to mind the fantastic work of contemporary bands like Russian Circles that do similar things within the framework of heavy instrumental music. “The Phantom Submarine” employs some jarring polyrhythms between the drums and the guitars that produce a haunting effect of never quite settling down, made more jarring by the fact that this is one of the fewer tracks on this side where the guitars are completely clean. “Prisoner of the Ant People” features nothing more that angry, buzzing feedback that calls to mind a colony of insects intent on ravaging the world.

There are moments of remarkable congruency that appear every so often that help to strengthen the concept of constant rearranging of the pieces. Oftentimes consecutive songs will lead directly into each other not only with the tone of the instruments but with tempo as well, creating a completely smooth transition from one song to the next. It is rare that two pieces will be completely foreign to each other and will produce an overly dissonant, cacophonous texture.

One thing to recommend would be to not intersperse the songs from the two different ‘sides’. The disparities in their sounds are quite jarring when placed together, in contrast to the way that the individual sides retain a certain cogency regardless of the track order. But if you’re more adventurous than I am, go right ahead and mix the two together.

There is one inherent flaw in the concept of cutting everything up and rearranging it randomly; if your music player stops when it has played all of the songs rather than looping until hitting the ‘stop’ button (as mine does), there is a very abrupt and awkward finish where it sounds as though the music has yet to resolve, because it still does. Even if there were a track designated as the ‘final track’ to provide musical resolution, it would immediately be removed from that context once the songs were put in random order. Furthermore, even if your music player does loop the songs ad infinitum, at some point you will have to hit the ‘stop’ button, which will similarly cause a sudden lack of musical resolution. Whether or not this will bother you is completely personal; to me it was the only real flaw on an otherwise highly pleasurable listening experience.

Overall, the unique concept of listening to these tracks in a completely random order is absolutely essential to enjoyment. I tried in vain to listen to it in ‘order’ (that is, in the sequence in which they are actually presented) and the effectiveness of the music was blunted. The tracks flowed together somewhat indistinguishably, and although it was really the same exact music I had already praised and enjoyed, the fragments of music were too easy to predict and they quickly fell into that area of ‘unlistening’, where we are listening to music and are aware of its presence but are otherwise preoccupied with something else and therefore unable to pick out or recite any melodies or rhythms of what has transpired. It is astounding how such a simple thing as rearranging the order of the pieces can produce such a vastly different picture. Just like a classical painting such as the Mona Lisa being chopped up and restructured in myriad ways, this album can produce an outrageous number of products through the use of the same elements. You can still see the face and the details of the background, but the way it has all been put together is new and exciting. And best of all, unlike many albums that may lose appeal after time and several listens, this album will be fresh every time it is put on, and will always offer some new soundscape, a new journey for the listener to embark on. This level of replay will have people coming back for seconds, thirds, etc.


Review by Liam McManus

[Archive 03.21.22]

1) Daniel Padden, “Dancer’s Reverse,” Ship Chop (Dekorder)
2) Incantation, “On the Wing of a Condor” On the Wing of a Condor (Beggar’s Banquet)  
3) M. Nageswara Rao, “Telisi Rama Chintanato,” The Ten Graces PLayed on the Vina (Nonesuch)
4) Cluster & Eno, “One,” Cluster & Eno (Sky)
5) Mercury Rev, “Endlessly-Instrumental,” Delta Sun Bottle Neck Stomp Single (V2)
6) Gary Numan, “Photograph,” This Wreckage (Beggar’s Banquet)
7) Ducktails, “Deck Observatory,” Landscapes (Olde English Spelling Bee)
9) Dimension 5, “Echo,” The Electronic Record for Children (Mississippi/Change)
10) Jacob Gotlib, “Scape After Louise — I. Dusk (Squaring the Circle)”
11) University of Toronto Electronic Music Studio, “Summer Idyl,” Electronic Music 
12) Aaron Charles, “KYD021084”
13) Claymation, “Oregons”
14) Aidan Baker and Tim Hecker, “Hymn to the Idea of Night,” Fantasma Parastasie (Alien8)
15) Pregnant Spore, “Mi Manchi Cosi Tanto de Farmi Male”
16) Cinncinatus C, “Autumn w Alyssa”
17) Bear Flames, “Bad Knee”
18) Dimension 5, “Goodbye,” The Electronic Record for Children (Mississippi/Change)

[Archive 02.15.12.]

1) Our Brother the Native, “Falconiformes,” Earth and Claw (Fat Cat)
2) Mercury Rev, “Meth of a Rockett’s Kick,” Boces (Beggar’s Banquet)
3) Thee Silver Mt. Zion, “13 Blues for Thirteen Moons,” 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons (Constellation)
4) Bear Flames, “Social Security #,” EP1, EP2, Old Rehearsals
5) Lucky Dragons, “Mercy,” Dark Falcon (555 Recordings)
6) Dustin Wong, “Space Tunnel Graffiti,” Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads (Thrill Jockey)
7) Martin Freeman, “Beastin,” Beastin
8) Tony Conrad with Faust, “The Death of the Composer was in 1962,” Outside the Dream Syndicate 
9) Andew Deutsch, “Rain Raga (Dedicated to Jessie Shefrin),” Out of Nowhere: Electro-Acoustic music from the Upstate Fringe
10) War on Drugs, “Don’t Fear the Ghost,” Coming to the City Single (Secretly Canadian)
11) Odonis Odonis, “Seedgazer,” Hollandaze (Fat Cat)
12) Aidan Baker, “Beyond the Great Wall,” The Spectrum of Distraction 
13) Malaria Control,” Bike Ride by the Water,” Jack Topht/Malaria Control Split Cassette 
14) Grab Ass Cowboys, “Turpentine Wig”
15) Ay Fast, “Rotating Stairwell Explained,” Ay Fast/Collapsed Arc (Bananas Eat Girl)