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Aaron Martin: "Worried About the Fire"

img  Tobias

The cover of Aaron Martin’s fourth full-length album, Worried About the Fire, depicts a row of bare trees under an icy snowfall. The picture is a perfect indicator of the music within—chilly and eerie drones of bowed cello, harmonica, humming sounds, and samples altered beyond recognition quietly encircle one another in dark and beautiful miniatures that together create a dark and evocative work.

Most of the pieces are built around a single droning note, from which other timbres slowly stretch to create beats of dissonance. As additional alien sounds enter the sonic palette—a note bowed over the bridge or fingerboard to create a natural sense of distortion with overtones, glissing harmonics chopped up and manipulated, canons of sawing strings—the listener becomes engulfed in a dark and textural world. All but one of the pieces clock in at less than 4 minutes, but each manages to suspend one’s perception of time so that every composition constitutes its own miniature journey. 

“Blue Light” floats electronics and breathing sounds moving between the speakers while strings sift weightlessly through a sea of reverb. In “Albee,” a sound reminiscent of a tiny helicopter circles dreamily around delay-heavy hits of a vibraphone-like instrument. “Water Tongue,” easily the least droning of the compositions, layers emotional folk-like cello melodies over a descending bassline, As high-string tremolos fade in and out with the quiet scratch of bows scraping against bridges, the piece delicately snowballs to a sustained moment of icy ecstasy.

It’s no surprise that Worried About the Fire was originally conceived as a soundtrack to a short film. The music seems a perfect accompaniment to a ghostly snowfall or a sedate but disturbing dream sequence. These are experiences as much as they are pieces. While the album as a whole delicately builds to a number of climaxes—the relentlessly looped strings ¾ into “Marked In Dust,” the intensely building 8th note cello figures that close “Beaver Falls”—much of the music has a floating, aimless quality that makes for psychologically sonic textures more than narrative pieces.

As abstract as much of Worried About the Fire is, the album makes for an engaging and beautiful listen that consumes you in its textural world. The fact that the pieces are similarly constructed results in a uniform listen where each composition floats into the next while at the same time standing uniquely alone. A score for a film that may or may not exist, Worried About the Fire makes for a deeply and evocative experience that conjures plenty of images of its own.

By Hannis Brown

Homepage: Aaron Martin
Homepage: Experimedia Records

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