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Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker - Fantasma Parastasie


An intriguing and much anticipated collaboration between two of Canada’s finest exports in the electronic field, this is an exploration that manages to squeeze the best out of both artists. Tim Hecker is well known for the sonically charged crackling ambient and evocative soundscapes that have made him a leader in the field, not least with the album Radio Amor in 2001, which has grown to classic status. Aidan Baker is a multi-instrumentalist specialising in a curious mix of ambient-drone metal, and lends an epic, sluggish riffing guitar to his other project Nadja, reminiscent of Southern Lord rock bands like Boris and Earth.

With 7 tracks stretched out over 35 minutes, they avoid the temptation to stretch out pieces, and thankfully this does the album credit. With a perhaps rather obvious start, “Phantom on a Pedestal” sees them both go full out to fill the sonic canvas with as much squall as possible, as if both of them are vying for the listener’s attention, Hecker’s waves of static trying to blot out Baker’s guitar by pushing it to the side. The forceful energy dissapates quite suddenly with “Hymn to the Idea of Night”, with some delightfully chiming treated guitar emerging out of a shimmering haze that undulates ever so slowly. “Skeleton Dane” sees Baker again take control, the emphasis on power and noise being counterpointed by Hecker’s controlled feedback. It’s not quite as effective as the first track, but feels slightly more gothic (although I wonder how much my feelings on that are influenced by the cover and track name!).  Central to the album is “Gallery of the Invisible Woman” which sees both of them working, I think, more in harmony, Hecker firmly in control as the soundscapes provide a solid foundation to some ethereal guitarwork. The album ends with the title track reducing everything to a minimal bass hum that slowly reverberates into nothing.

Whilst both artists display their skills to optimum effect, I was left a bit disappointed by this album. Both Hecker and Baker are capable of stronger melodic development, and there seemed to be a feeling throughout of competition rather than co-operation, and ultimately this has led to several of the tracks being too densely packed with noise, leaving some of the other tracks being almost skeletal in their emotional content. It’s as if the energy leaves the rest lopsided and sucked dry. Still, for vibrant sonic soundscapes, whilst they are ten-a-penny these days, this is one of the better released this year, and one hopes that Hecker and Baker continue their efforts together.

Toby Frith

Alien8 website

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