Aidan Baker and Karen Willems – Nonland

by Freq | 2017-05-12T13:06:01+00:000000000131201705 13:06


Aidan Baker and Karen Willems - NonlandLess is more, so they say. But as facile as that gnomic wisdom is to state, successfully — satisfyingly — putting it into practice, musically or otherwise, can be another thing altogether. This is what the pairing of Aidan Baker and Karen Willems achieves here. Nonland is recorded crisply, Willems’s drums sounding exactly like well-mic’d instruments should, clear and precisely placed in the stereo spectrum where Baker’s woozy FX can ply their magical moonlit way, bringing textural pleasure and bending time into shapes at once familiar and eerie.

The six instrumentals on the LP traverses through subtly looped guitar figures, strewn with lengthy passages where the rhythm and tone of the percussion drives the forward motion while the electronics weave a slurred yet refreshing story of sound set free from the quotidian. It’s presumably not by accident that one track is named “In My Head It Is Kind Of An Escape”, for that’s what Baker and Willems offer here: a straight-up, superbly-crafted exercise in abandoning earth’s gravity on favour of muscle-powered heft and the vast ethereal comforts of the rise and fall of guitar tones suspended far above in the skies.

It’s often quite easy to forget that this is the work of a duo, so dense and involved does the music become on occasion. Take”Digging Through Time”, for instance, where the racket that the pair put out would put many a post-rock, free-improv ensemble in the shade, a track so ruggedly and fully formed that it leaves the listener almost trembling with its (deceptively) simple yet effective intensity. The album was recorded in one session, Willems and Baker only having played together live on one previous occasion; but such is their proficiency that Nonland assumes an all-encompassing and intuitive coherence with deceptive ease.

-Linus Tossio-


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