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Aidan Baker & Idklang – In The Red Room


Aidan Baker & Idklang - In The Red RoomGently grooving guitars weave in and out of focus, playful in their interaction and sporadic dialogues with each other. At times they align, generating a collective groove that rolls along with the free spirit of Krautrock. In other moments they separate, creating backdrops for each other casting light and shadows, or providing minute detailed explorations of sonic material, until once again, they reunite and take on a common direction.

It’s as if quiet contemplation is being encouraged here, or an excursion in understatement. There are no flat-out, widescreen dooming guitars or blankets of megalithic droning fuzz. Instead, a different pleasure is offered, and one that does not feel like some kind of imposed restraint. Because both Aidan Baker and Idklang (AKA Markus Steinkellner) are still able to take their material into epic dimensions, all within the quiet zone they have chosen to explore.

Amongst the calmly plucked repeating guitar lines, occasional notes and harmonics pop out. Sometimes a riff or groove comes up, slowly pushing all the different layers forward with a sense of calm and ease through a vast field of ambience. The looping phrases provide a familiar companion as textures and behaviours move in and out of focus, or slowly expand like a steadily building small camp fire — you can choose which detail catches your eye or ear; one piece of wood starts burning more rapidly whilst another just glows, there’s some small flickers, then some crackling which slowly grows into some buzzing new flames.

Over time a deep hum evolves out of the many cycling layers, providing a warm sonic bed to an array of brief piercing noises that quietly threaten to disrupt the mellow comfy haze. Along with the distant spring reverb echoes, they serve to keep us aware that heaviness is right around the corner if it needs to be. It’s just a decision not to touch it. It’s rather suggested, explored from another perspective, like we’ve passed into a zone beyond the monster riff, but it lies like a big jagged mountain silhouette far off on the horizon. Occasionally we pass them by, because for me the album feels like a continual journey, always in transit, staring out at a changing landscape.

Time passes quickly, which is surprising since it’s a record that uses it’s full duration to unfold (each track is 20 minutes long). Clearly focused and with an equal balance of tension amidst the gently played guitars, it stays so concentrated in its textures, patience and approach, yet remains playful.

The press release describes In The Red Room as a “psychedelic trip of pure beauty”. It is that, but that beauty is made all the more apparent within the dark shadows that give an underlying depth, shape and contour to the two pieces, and also in its breadth of details, the crumbling debris in the form of the minute fuzzy sonic crackles, cable buzz and angular picks to the strings. The different shades intoned by ambient droning guitars that arrive and disperse like slow winds changing direction. The bent and twisted alternating feedback howls that still manage to motor the music along to some happily isolated place.

I find this great music for just being, in those moments where you want to shut your eyes and detach, or just observe the comings and goings of things.

-James Welburn-

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