AMN Reviews: Aidan Baker – Already Drowning (Gizeh Records)

a3154857344_2Aidan Baker´s Already Drowning is “a song-cycle inspired by various myths & folktales about female water spirits” and the fiction of a handful of writers, including Angela Carter, A. S. Byatt and Hubert Aquin. It presents the Aidan Baker project – experimental guitar, ambient drone, doom jazz on a good hundred solo albums plus all his collaborative and group work (most significantly as Nadja with his wife, Leah Buckareff), some poetry – in a new light: as an atmospheric contribution to the Great American Songbook with an arch sensibility and orchestral sweep. Though it sounds far-fetched, it bears a certain family resemblance to Frank Sinatra´s cult classic album Watertown, about an abandoned husband´s big time, small town heartbreak.

Like Watertown, Already Drowning is great melodrama, cinema disguised as an album of music. Despite its ostensible conjuring of stasis, drone, especially in Baker´s hands, can cast between still gloom and tempestuousness, delicate nuance and overwrought emotion. Playing guitar, bass, flute, trombone, piano, drums and unspooling field recordings (and joined by a handful of guest instrumentalists), Baker incorporates drone but also goes beyond it, and foregoes the lone male voice in favour of a different female vocalist on each track. Each adds not only her interpretive gift but in some instances, her own translation of Baker´s lyrics.

Opening at a gritty train station (just like Watertown), Clara Engel delivers the title track to a spare accompaniment that contrasts with the richly orchestrated strings of “30 Days / 30 Nights”, sung by Jessica Bailiff. “Mélusine” – a Medieval mermaid, perhaps not unlike the one in stone being ravished on the cover – is a duet sung almost to abstraction by Valérie Niederoest and Maude Oswald of Swiss indie band Toboggan, while “Mein Zwilling, Mein Verlorener” is articulated in crystal clear German by Joanna Kupnicka to an acoustic, folksy accompaniment.

On “Tout Juste Sous La surface, Je Guette”, the inimitable Geneviève Castrée (aka Ô Paon) and Baker turn her wintry submersion into a grim Icelandic saga. On the eleven-minute “Ice”, a truly mesmerizing piece, Liz Hysen (Picastro) whispers as Baker ebbs and flows. The honour of closing goes to arguably the most-well known of the assembled vocalists, Carla Bozulich (of Evangelista, The Geraldine Fibbers). “Lorelai / Common Tongue” arcs all the way back to the beginning, and the mood has absolutely cratered; lover gone (again, inevitably), train station now a death trap, Salvation Army brass band drunk and a swirl of demons trying to drown her story out.

Under Baker´s direction, a complex web of emotions is solid as latticed steel and victims become heroines.

Stephen Fruitman

March Complete Communion Reviews

English: Otomo Yoshihide
Otomo Yoshihide (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lots of free jazz reviews from The Quietus:

Spring’s Complete Communion brings you avant-garde Ellingtonia from Matthew Shipp, fiery free jazz and top notch Sinatra puns from Death Shanties, pianistic brilliance from Alexander Hawkins, and a bass masterclass from Barry Guy. We also discuss a splendid piece of free improv hum and clang from Roger Turner and Otomo Yoshihide, the latest from Seb Rochford‘s jazz-groove-electronica outfit Polar Bear, and the debut LP from Sunn O))) and Sun Ra fans Free Nelson ManDoomJazz.

Newsbits: Residents Film / Wojciech Kilar Online / Melford’s Snowy Egret Reviewed / Milford Graves at Brandeis

Polish composer Wojciech Kilar. Français : Le ...
Wojciech Kilar

A new documentary on The Residents has recently debuted.

Poland’s National Audiovisual Institute has launched an online service devoted to the work of composer Wojciech Kilar, who died in December 2013 at the age of 81.

Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret release is reviewed.

Milford Graves will headline Brandeis University’s first Improv Festival.

Mary Halvorson Interview

From Mary Halvorson:

Guitarist Mary Halvorson has two exciting new records coming out this year. The first, with bassist Stephan Crump, is the sophomore effort of their collaborative duo, Secret Keeper. The music they create together features rich, sensual, earthy sounds set upon a palate of sound that includes dashes of necessary tension amidst foreboding resonance. A truly magical pairing of virtuosos both equipped with daring vision. Titled Emerge (Intakt), their second record will be available in Europe this month and in the United States April 28. Emerge is a decisive new turn for the band following their fully improvised debut Super Eight. The new release features nine tunes–four compositions by each of the two band members–and an adapted song by Irving Berlin. Halvorson is also set to release her first solo record on Firehouse 12 in September.



March 18, 2015
Tatsuya Nakatani Solo, ISSUE Project Room
Tatsuya Nakatani

March 18, 2015
Nakatani Gong Orchestra, ISSUE Project Room
Bob Bellerue Lea Bertucci Kim Brandt Matt Chilton Steve Dalachinsky Sandy Gordon David Grubbs Chris Haag Tatsuya Nakatani Stefan Tcherepnin Philip White Alexis Zaccarello

March 8, 2015
The Artacts Workshop Orchestra conducted by Steve Swell, Alte Gerberei, St Johann in Tirol
Elisabeth Aufschnaiter Sabine Bacher Cäsar Cechmann Klemens Eisner Chris Gandler Lucas Grottenthaler Jakob Köhle Felix Kremsner Benni Lampert Martin Meraner Steve Swell Dorian Windegger

March 15, 2015
Raw Sound Sweden with Guests, Downtown Music Gallery
Elsa Bergman Signe Dahlgreen Shayna Dulberger Anna Högberg Anna Lund Cheryl Pyle Biggi Vinkeloe Malin Wättring

Musique Machine Reviews

From Musique Machine:

Dead Body Collection – I Have Eternity To Know Your Flesh
Vomir – En Dehors, En Rien
Inquisition – Magnificent Glorification of Lucifer
Rick Ulfik – Street Trash OST
Dave Phillips – Homo Animalis
Mare Di Dirac – Tupilaq
Dead Neanderthals – Prime
David Borden – Music For Amplified Keyboard Instruments