AIDAN BAKER plays June Records on Sunday (April 7). Rating: NNN
Berlin-based Toronto expat Aidan Baker takes a break from the ambient drone metal of Nadja to explore some minimalist weirdo folk ideas on this new solo album. Already Drowning is sparse and much gentler than the intimidating walls of noise some might be expecting. Still, you're not going to confuse this with easy listening. Maybe uneasy listening. While it is melodic, it's also a very dark album with an experimental perspective.
The seven songs are all based on female water spirit myths, and all feature different female vocalists. In many cases, though, the vocals are less the centrepiece than just another sound source to be manipulated and deconstructed. Best are the moments when Baker balances his avant-garde tendencies with traditional songcraft. The spoken word bits are less effective but not so upfront in the mix that they distract from the music.
Top track: Already Drowning (featuring Clara Engel)