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  • Holly Nicholson

Aidan Baker submerges the listener in a deep trance with new release: Soil.

Dubbed as one of the most "Prolific" ambient/experimental musicians by Pitchfork, Aidan Baker's vast discography, from 2004-present, consists of over 100 releases.

So far in 2020 alone, Baker has released two full length albums and one EP, each possessing it's own distinctive sound and concept.


Through use of looping, fragmentation and static noise, the aptly titled Soil cleverly simulates the movement and process of erosion in a way that immerses the listener in it's flow, creating a trance-like, almost meditative state of being.


The album is due for release on June 12th 2020 through Sheffield, UK Based label Utility Tapes.


With the overall concept being that of Soil, the album is structured so that each track represents a different stage in the process of erosion.


Baker opens with Rill (1&2). A process which can be described as a channel water flowing through soil. This is replicated in the structure of Rill 1, which grabs the listener from the onset. As the humming undercurrent phases in, the listener is awash in an ocean of static, creating a sensation like that of being under water; soothing and peaceful. As the track continues, the undercurrent begins to pulse, like a heart beat. This adds further dimension to the track and pulls the listener in deeper. The minimalist structure of this track lends itself quite naturally to be used in meditation or as a momentary escape from anxiety.


Moving into Rill 2 , the static loses its ambience as the frequency changes, creating a tone that is more jarring, pulling the listener out of that meandering trance. This track feels gritty and course, much like Soil with the reverb tones of the guitar simulating the water that washes it away.


Sediment, as it's name suggests, creates a sensation of churning akin to the dragging of boat propellers through a murky river, though simple in structure, the track creates a sensation of heaviness, a slow dragging that is rendered in it's looping undercurrent. As the track progresses, sustained monophonic tones resemble machinery, like that found at a dock, imitating the sound of industry. Sediment, despite lacking in complexity, is still able to stimulate the listeners imagination.


Through the use of panning and short staccato notes, Aidan Baker simulates the twisting of a Kolk, or an underwater vortex. The circular motion of the track brings about a feeling of oscillation. Baker has ensured through what seems to be careful and deliberate cutting and placing of fragments that each track is conceptually on point.


In Surface Creep, the track combines progressively building percussive elements with a surging hum of static, to give the feel of particles slowly rolling down a slope. There is a gradual build of energy in this track but the momentum is constant and hypnotic.


The same is true for Rainfall&Distance, which is the final track and my personal favourite on the album as a whole. This feels soothing from the onset. The patterns in the static resemble the sound of rain, this adds a grounding dimension to the track. The reverb and delay heavy guitar that overlay this create a warm and ambient environment which loops repeatedly in a familiar pattern, encouraging a meditative level of focus for the listener.


As a whole, Soil feels more intimate and personal than Aidan Baker's previous work on

An Instance of Rising/Liminoid. These tracks are minimalist, stripped back to fundamental elements, but still make for a compelling and mesmerising listen.


Soil was recorded in early March 2019 at Broken Spine Studios in Berlin, Germany.


The album will be available as a limited edition cassette tape and on digital formats from June 12th 2020 through Utility Tapes, with pre-orders starting on Friday 5th June via the Utility Tapes Bandcamp store. 


For more from Aidan Baker, go to https://aidanbaker.bandcamp.com/



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