Aidan Baker: Loop Studies One (Laub, 2003)
Ambient/atmospheric music is not for all listeners, to be sure. For most music lovers, in fact, the seeming lack of melody in purely ambient recordings amounts to a listening experienced akin to listening to TV static. The apparent monotony of ambient music is similar for many music listeners to listening to the constant, repetitive buzz and whir of a washing machine. Yet, fans of the genre know that when done properly, ambient music can sublimely yet powerfully move the listener in profound ways.
Toronto musician/poet Aidan Baker demonstrated on his Loop Studies One how subtle, droning sounds can lead listeners to a state of tranquility and reflection. Baker expertly manipulates loop recordings of guitars, layering them live over each other, and creates a sense of direction and building without abruptly changing the soothing mood. With four instrumental tracks simply titled One, Two, Three and Four (each track clocking in at over 10 minutes), Baker explores the variations of mood and tension that can be built around guitar loops. Loop Studies One, it appears, would run the risk of being redundant and boring, given Baker‘s artistic approach. I mean, how can almost one hour of soft guitar loops repeating over themselves be interesting or engaging in any way? Well, Baker succeeds at capturing and holding the listener’s attention through his choice of chilling (yet comforting) harmonics and varying dynamics, and as the songs grow (and seem to breathe), the listener finds little nuances in the recordings that add remarkable depth to the music. The whole effect is a tad mind-blowing, given that the listener knows what Baker is doing; yet the result is still stimulating and even other-worldly.
Thus, with mesmerizing, hypnotic, soft guitar sounds, Loop Studies One lulls the listener with an organic hum of sound. Proving that ambient does not equal uninteresting, Aidan Baker adds another engaging work to his already impressive back-catalog of recordings. For fans of Stars of the Lid, and perhaps Windy and Carl, Loop Studies One is a slightly darker and lo-fi collection of ambient recordings.
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