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Aidan Baker / thisquietarmy – Hypnodrone Ensemble

Consouling Sounds

Aidan Baker & thisquietarmy - Hypnodrone EnsembleRecorded live in Berlin in May 2014, with no less than three drummers joining Aidan Baker and Eric Quach (AKA thisquietarmy) as they sweep their guitar drones into places further out than many guitarists are prepared to go, Hypnodrone Ensemble comes across as a band name as much as it is a performance or an album title. With Felipe Salazar (also in Caudal with Baker, and of Muerte en Pereira), Jérémie Mortier from Alice in the Cities and Lady Shot from a Tree, and Dave Dunnett of Man Meets Bear giving their collective drumskins a good pounding, it’s no surprise at all that what starts as a rush of cymbals and FX swarms soon lifts off with its multi-ventricled heart set on reaching for the constellations through the tried and tested means of space rock.

Sympathetically mastered by James Plotkin, there’s no denying these are live recordings, but they sound excellent for all that, with the kits thrashing, crashing and churning in unison and in polyrhythms alike, while the pedals of Baker and Quach are truly pressed firmly to the metal, often and rocking hard with a purpose. So far, so Hawkwind, or perhaps more pertinently, Boredoms, and while there isn’t either’s sound of squillions of squittering analogue synths in space, the guitar FX do their level best to fill in the psychotropic gaps as they phase, float and flicker above the relentless groove collision below.

As with all good space rock, after achieving lift off and entering zero gravity, the quintet proceed to drift around admiring the view and recuperating from the rigours of orbital travel for a while, rotating much as the planet they have left far below does, accumulating energy for the next phase of the mission. This turns out to be an observational study at first, where the interplay of each actor works into an ebb and flow of responses which take their own good time to set off into deeper space once more, this time heading for the stars. It takes a lot of energy to even get to the next planet, let alone to the edge of the solar system, but after a good solid burn, the Hypnodroners achieve cruising speed at around the half-hour mark, which in stoner time (the effects of huge amounts of skunk and hashish of relativity is apparently both well-studied and extensively peer-reviewed) is doubtless some months into the journey.

By the time their odyssey coasts off, boosted by the power of enthusiastic audience applause, it seems that Baker, thisquietarmy and the engineers and crew of the starship Hypnodrone are more than well prepared for the next stage, whenever and wherever that might turn out to be.

Antron S Meister-

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