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CD Feature/ Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker: "Fantasma Parastasie"

img  Tobias

The voices of Aidan Baker and Tim Hecker were so inherently eclectic to begin with that it's no wonder their artistic progress has rather been marked by refinement than revolution. Baker’s interest in Folk, Doom Metal, Drones, Krautrock and the Blues has led both to ambitious fusions (“The Sea Swells a Bit” and “Green and Blue” come to mind) as well as episodes of relative stylistic purity (cosmic camp fire allegory “Scalpel”), while Hecker has excelled in reconsiling brittle Ambient beauty with majestic Noise and infusing classical experimental Electronica with the quirky and contemplative spirit of contemporary Sound Art. 

As eclectic as their listening tastes may have been, however, their discographies were mostly illuminated by the same suns – which is why travelling the wormhole between them certainly seems like a refreshing proposition. Thanks to the wideness of their combined musical scopes, the recognisability and consequentiality of their visions and the fact that their approaches are complimentary rather than congruent, there was plenty of meat for more than a mere digital file exchange here from the outset.

Let’s not disgress too much. The obvious first question of any fan must surely be what the encounter actually sounds like in practise. The simple answer to that is that “Fantasmes Parastasie” carefully incorporates the individual scripts of its creators into a new, unified style without loosing sight of the their unique approaches. Baker’s Guitar is featured prominently and disctinctively, yet its clearly recognisable outlines are embedded into streams of apocalyptic harmony and polychromatically sizzling ambiances. Vice versa, the stoic momentum of Hecker’s drones is broken by anthemically surging melodies or warm, comforting chord cycles. At the end, it is hard to believe that the duo hasn’t secretly called in the help of a third person to arrive at the smooth flow of this elegantly cohesive work.

All those initially deterred by the gothic title, Black Metal artwork and occult track numbering (the record has been broken up into exactly 66 individual sections) can therefore breath a sigh of relief and now press the “order” button at their favourite mail order. And yet, the spacey feel-good factor radiated by “Fantasmes Parastasie” should not distract from the fact that this is, on many occasions, a heavy piece of music and an experimental album in the true sense of the word: Both Baker and Hecker have surrendered part of their territory to the other and dared to venture into unknown lands on the vague promise of a hopeful prophecy.

Paradoxically, they may rarely have sounded as distinctively like themselves as on this album: The majestic Guitar salutations in the first minutes see Baker droning at his most radiating and self-confident, while Hecker’s contributions once again find the golden means between outer extremes and delicate harmony. None of them will therefore be likely to drastically revolutionise his approach and probably rather tend towards even more gradual refinement in the future. But considering the seemingly infinite possibilities of rewardingly recombining their eclectic interests, this must be considered a promise not a threat.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Aidan Baker
Homepage: Tim Hecker
Homepage: Alien8 Recordings

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