• aidan baker Half Lives (double CD, £12.75)

    label: Gizeh Records

    Half Lives is the Gizeh Records follow-up album to Baker’s acclaimed 2013 album Already Drowning. While that album was built around the guest vocals of female singers - including Carla Bozulich, Jessica Bailiff and Geneviéve Castrée (O Paon) - Half Lives comprises two separate but interconnected albums and Baker’s loose concept was that they would bridge the more abstract/experimental and song-oriented natures of his work. Both albums were recorded in August 2014 in Berlin and are the product of initial extended improvisations that were then arranged into coherent pieces - ‘constructed’ rather than ‘composed’. In these senses, parallels can be made with artists such as Bark Psychosis, Low and The For Carnation, for whom experimentation with texture and timbre has never been a reason to abandon the song form. Where these two albums differ is in their sonic palettes. Mountains Sweat Clouds is based around the electric guitar whereas As I Walked On Dead Earth features primarily acoustic guitar. However, any sense that this might provide an easy separator is quickly erased by Baker’s supreme skills at arranging and layering his material, featuring extensive use of organ, synths, percussion, field recordings and vocals. His curiously dispassionate yet emotional vocal is actually one of the strongest elements to the albums - conceived once the music was complete, it provides the thread along which the pieces flow. Taken together, the two albums that comprise Half Lives are further evidence of Baker’s expressive, shapeshifting sound. Tracklisting: Disc 1 1. Mountains Sweat Clouds I2. Mountains Sweat Clouds II 3. Creature (Intro) 4. You Are A Creature Of Darkness 5. Mountains Sweat Clouds III 6. Lighttrap I 7. Crow (Intro) 8. A Black Crow Flies 9. Lighttrap II 10. Lighttrap III Disc 2 1. As I Walked On Dead Earth I2. Half Life 3. Until I Came To The River 4. Fear Of Open Spaces I5. It Was All, All In A Dream 6. Somewhere In The World Trees Are Growing 7. Fear Of Open Spaces II 8. Then Came The Storm 9. And I Raise My Eyes To The Hills 10. Still There Is The Sound Of Thunder 11. As I Walked On Dead Earth II

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