Ultra Milkmaids

At Home With ...

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Despite hailing from different continents, Aidan Baker (Canada) and Ultra Milkmaids (France) have a few things in common; most importantly, they both shapeshift. For this particular project, Baker is in guitar-soundscaping mode and the Ultra Milkmaids -- here brothers Y. and R. -- seem to stick to digital processing. At Home With ... was recorded in 2003-2004, before the group redefined its sound into something more beat-oriented. That is to say things are gliding very smoothly on this album. "Part 1 (In the Cube)" starts with gritty metallic sound waves that set the tone for the whole 12 minutes of this piece. If it weren't for Baker's delicate work, you'd think you stumbled upon a Biosphere recording. The piece calls for active listening, sucking the listener in but preventing him from drifting away. "Stretched Guitars Lie Slo" is almost a typical Baker track: multi-layered guitars forming a soft, rippling sonic fabric, through which a marching snare drum motif and delicate digital touches are woven. A majestic piece, it deserves a place among the guitarist's best recordings, alone or in collaboration. "Part II (At Home With)" is more puzzling. It features soundscapes, digital treatments, and field recordings (wind, water, and domestic sounds). The very good mastering job on At Home With ... makes it a must-have for fans of Baker, whose discography includes a number of lo-fi releases. This album was released as a manufactured CD by the Ohio label Infraction, in a limited edition of 538.