Aidan Baker

Element

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Toronto guitarist Aidan Baker released Element, his first CD, in June 2000 as a CD-R packaged without a booklet. It contains five solo electric guitar pieces recorded at various locations between 1997 and 2000. Baker makes extensive use of electronics, especially reverb, backward effects, and looping, creating ambient soundscapes that develop very slowly. On the three "Element" tracks, the guitar is played with drumsticks, scissors, and bows. Baker reverts to more traditional playing on the two "Elemental" tracks. No notes, only atmospheres -- and good ones. One can completely forget that the only instrument used is a guitar; these could be pure electronic pieces. Of course this means the material remains rather static, but the self-taught guitarist is not here to show his chops. What he shows instead is his flair for sound textures. Another quality is his aptitude to not overcrowd a soundscape; the second "Elemental" track is a rather well executed example of this. The sound quality is not perfect -- there is some hiss in the background on a few tracks -- but good enough not to distract. Interesting for those who seek some relaxation music that doesn't sound new agey. Fans of Robert Fripp's soundscapes should investigate further.

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