(Dusted 2/27/2003) It begins with something that could be the sound of DNA gently floating in a mitochondrial soup, and ends with an ambient texture piece with lyrics culled from a particularly dense passage from Milton's "Paradise Lost." In between lies an intriguing exploration of worlds of tactile sensualism (a topographic map of the skin, as it were) and a deeper look at the inner forces and powerful unseen drives that lurk below. It's a dense and prickly world created on I Fall Into You, by Canadian guitarist, loopist, and lyricist Aidan Baker (he's also worked as a writer of poetry and fiction, and his works in the written word deal with similar inner concerns of language, sensuality and the darker side of the psyche). The highlight of the whole disc is the mesmerizing two-guitar gamelan of "Symbiosis," a place where wafting, repetitive guitars merge with gently tumescent drumlike sounds until no instrument is truly distinct throughout its 10 ambient minutes. The centerpiece of the five-song disc is the nearly 25-minute "Lysis," which opens with vocalist Naomi Okabe blankly intoning the phrase, "I fall into you and replicate." There's some significance to this multi-layered, seemingly inscrutable lyrical phrase – indeed the lyric itself can be seen as a tool to describe Baker's music. It can even take on different possible meanings with each different listen: the sense one makes of the phrase on the fourth time through the CD can be significantly different from the first time, or the fifth. It's an ambiguity that hangs, that changes and morphs, much like the music itself in all five of these pieces. The title phrase resurfaces again later, during "Phage", a one-minute spoken-word piece that oddly enough recalls the Velvet Undergound's "Lady Godiva's Operation," with two completely different sets of words happening simultaneously in either speaker. Those who wish to carp might point out that Baker maps out similar terrain as others before, such as Michael Brook, Biota, or even Brian Eno. But the important thing to remember is a lesson that Brian Eno himself explicitly set forth: the beauty and strength of any ambient or instrumental music lies precisely in its alien quality of strangeness and unfamiliarity, its inherent newness to the ears, an experience much like looking at a topographic map of an unfamiliar place, or viewing up-close surface photographs of distant planets that have been beamed to us from faraway spacecraft. There are colossal canyons you've never seen before, unexpected meteorology lighting the skies, and even boring desert vistas that cry out in utter plainness, but even the plainest desert contains an unexplainable beauty just for being so different and unfamiliar. In that sense, I Fall Into You is all about exploring the cartography of an uncharted place: looking around, searching for recognition, or even surrendering to one's surroundings and just taking it all in. The fact that Baker has done so much with far fewer resources (4-track, sparse equipment, one month of recording) than any of his immediate reference points is in itself a victory for ambient music's inherent Everyman quality. But what's even more impressive, is the fact that Aidan Baker is presenting us with ambient instrumental music that isn't just a map of some exotic fictional Roger Dean-type planetscape, but a view of the darkest parts of the human interior itself. - James F. Lien
(Ampersand Etcetera 2002_17) Aidan Baker combines a dark ambience and sci-fi reflective soundwork on his album. 'Lapse' opens with two minutes of luscious pulsing string drone before a subtle rhythm loop enters, then sireny squiggles, long tones suggesting a slow melody and woody tones that all slowly build. As it fades, the squiggles become more obvious as tape play and there are distant words. A female saying 'I fall into you and replicate' begins 'Lysis' a 25 minute long drama – after some ambient tones, a picked motif, whoosh and panned tape effects, we get the first vocal section, with the words echoed and phased to become an instrument. A mingling, falling into, chromosomally recombinant poem that runs through the whole album. This track shifts between musical and vocal movements: through swelling tones that drop to a pulse then the voice looped and layered over a low melancholy; light guitar and choppy melodic to drum loops and low tunes, edgy with high tones and distant whispered voices building and driving; a whistly signal and male and female speakers before the final minutes where backward tones build with a soaring guitar solo, scratchy tape fx and a cloud of soft voices that lead to a scrabbly end before an echo of the opening. After that more protean track, 'Symbiosis' is more straightforward, and quite different: Baker demonstrates his guitar skills with a light delicate picked work with subtle highlights, including some pizzicato and scraped strings and long tones. Quite a different character to earlier parts, although some whispers with tones and soft pings join later. A brief round of the female voice over a slow male rhythm in 'Phage' and then the 'Lethe' takes us away. A complex tape play – backwards voices, squiggles, clicks, noises – then building voice tones and another lovely long-note guitar solo, finally over a pulsing tone wash to fade. Not really a spoken word album – those sections are quite minimal – and where voices occur they augment the music as much as anything, leading to a dense and varied ambient album, skilfully constructed and very listenable. - Jeremy Keens
(All Music Guide) Aidan Baker has been quite prolific in 2002. I Fall Into You, a CDR released by Public Eyesore, falls into the 'good' pile. It consists of dark guitar soundscapes accompanied by poems. Baker, who also fronts a career as a writer, came up with powerful lyrics on the topic of love as addiction/virus/dependence/transformation. The diptych 'I fall into you / & replicate' becomes the leitmotiv of the album and mirrors with its implications the dark eroticism of the ambient soundscapes. Baker plays guitar (electric and acoustic), bass and loops, creating lush moods that slowly change in terms of hues and feelings. Naomi Okabe recites with him, incarnating the reciprocal of the poems. 'Lapse' and 'Lethe,' both seven minutes in duration, work as the walk-in/walk-off pair. The second re-uses the soft synth chords and beatbox track of the first in reverse, giving the track a mutated feel completely attuned to the topic. 'Lysis' (25 minutes) and 'Symbiosis' (10 minutes) present most of the argument, both lyric- and music-wise. There Baker hits a peak as a sound designer/collagist. The pieces run deep and captivates, much more than the improvised Letters. Baker struck a balance between word and sound, plus this album benefits from better production values and a solid concept. Recommended. - François Couture
(Neo-Zine) Recorded on a 4-track, utilizing electric / acoustic bass, guitars, tape loops, vocals, and string loops. Five experimental ambience tracks stretched beyond proportions. The second track alone is 24 minuets. There is very little change in the droning ring of the background music, but the foreground of looping repetition and astral atmospheres zing with a little bit of scattered life. When vocals kick in, the poetic voices really complete the package. Reminds me a lot of some of the early experimental electronic works that were simple and artsy. Less than tortuous, but never uplifting, this just sort of presents itself for the sake of presentation (without being overly concerned with going anywhere or with any special provocation.) If you enjoy it, that’s your deal. If not, what does Aiden Baker care? - C.H.C.
(Ambientrance 1/2002) Just as your friends might not understand your staring into a green billowing vapor dully illuminated by flickering lights, they might not get your fascination with lapse, in which hovering streams of tonal slur are stippled by faint cyclic grit. Obtuse but sweet! lysis (24:54) seeps in on keening string-like currents which are overtaken by a stewing cloud of inscrutable energies; echoey words occasionally sneak out of the mists. The vast track explores various other realms and crosses rising/falling oceanic depths laced with light rhythms. Low strums melt across 10-minute-plus symbiosis where a broadly sprawling dreamworld of almost-music gleams in cloudy contours of mesmerizing formlessness! Those lengthy immersions are offset by the shorter phage (1:00), a muted spew of trippily layered spoken poetry. Vocal deconstructions are evident as bits of spiraling detritus dropping into the golden tonaldrones of lethe, closing the disc with its sunset glow. All five tracks add up to 50 minutes of miasmic esoterica from aidan baker; the pillowy essences of i fall into you make for an unusually soft place to land. Captivating obscurity! - David J. Opdyke
(Eld Rich Palmer no. 12) VERY atmospheric music. I hardly expected such thing from the label, and Aidan himself seemed more of a sound explorer rather than emotional guy. A slowly spun ribbon of the guitar drones assisted by similarly unhurried electronics didn't augur any divergence from "Eye of Day". The second, 25-minute track, however, surprises me by its getting close to the formula of dark ambient. And it works fine indeed – quite unsettling, mysterious, reminding of ALIO DIE supplemented with a female vocals of sensual timbre. Once you've got immersed head over heels in that charming atmosphere, for no apparent reason and all of a sudden, percussion butts in shifting the mood of the whole into a kind of a trancey trip, only to finish as a background to a recited text. It seems to me a bit excessively contrived, moreover, brings to mind the stuff by their countrymen, The Infant Cycle. I don't mind the lengthiness of Baker's tracks; quite the opposite, it can be seen as an advantage so I easily faced another ten minutes framed into a single track – an unobtrusive mini opus on clockwork cadenced repetitive parts of the guitar and sonic dribs and drabs. No ascents or descents, just a good filling of the middle part of the album. If compared with the other, the fourth track, being only a minute in length, seems like an ephemeral phantom of which you can hardly recall anything but a female voice reciting Aiden's text. The end crowns the work. Based mostly on the reversed sounds, a sonic vagueness closes with the guitar drones this VERY intriguing album. - Krzysztof Sadza
(Exclaim 4/30/2003) This free verse poet, erotica writer and musician has combined his strengths to form a deep, sensuous and libidinously charged recording. Aidan’s guitar drone work is the driving force of the album, supplemented with vocals, tape loops and string loops. In true spacy ambient fashion the tracks here range from a minute to almost half an hour. In the midst of guitar loops and layered textural effects are fragments of Baker’s erotic poetry read by himself and Naomi Okabe that are finger licking good. The mood on the album is rather brooding and slow at times, but also has its build-up moments as well. One of Aidan’s great talents is to create a dense, lush, varied sound with the most pared down, limited means. Who knew that guitars alone harboured such orchestral sounds? - I. Khider
(Touching Extremes) I'm glad to report Aidan Baker's music is evolving and engaging more than ever: his current production has begun putting wings on to fly to a whole new level. Until now, "I fall into you" is my favorite record by the Toronto guitar looper/poet, here flanked by two women (Naomi Okabe and Lisa Rossiter-Thorton on vocals and string loops); Aidan plays guitars, bass and vocalizes himself, showing his talents in four lovely tracks all made of repetitive structures and hypnotic allucinations. The overall standard is very high - 4 track recording notwithstanding - but a special mention must be made for a lucid dream called "Symbiosis", which I believe is one of the most beautiful pieces I listened in years, where guitar arpeggios and loops are used like a percussion in an almost suffocated shaman ritual. - Massimo Ricci
(Almost Cool) Until earlier this year, I'd never heard of Aidan Baker, which is strange since he seems to be a fairly prolific artist. In addition to a couple other releases, he was featured as an earlier release on the Piehead Records limited series (which Matmos contributed to under the name Vague Terrain Recordings with their A Viable Guide To Actual Sexual Contact release), and with I Fall Into You, it makes at least his third release on the year. While I don't have either of those other releases (although I've heard parts of the aformentioned Piehead release Repercussion), I can say that after hearing I Fall Into You, I'll have to make more of an effort to seek out his work. Mixing drone with post rock and experimental electronics, this 5 track, 50-minute release takes inspiration from tons of different sources and stirs them together into one drifting mass of sound. The release opens with shifting tape loops and several layers of drones (strings, voices) on top of one another. The heaving layers shift over one another like a Stars Of The Lid track, but instead of letting the washes go wherever they want, he introduces a very subtle beat behind it all that plays off the tape squiggles, yet never overwhelms. While it's a little more aimless and slightly more inconsistent, the nearly 25-minute second track of "Lysis" still has lots of good things going on for it. Again layering some lush drones and mingling them with some subtle layers of feedbacked guitars, it takes much longer settling in, though, and only a few female vocal snippets fade in and out over the first half. About halfway through, the track again changes, adding another haunting drone and a propulsive beat that builds the track into something downright ominous. "Symbiosis" arrives as the centerpiece to the album, and it mixes drone sounds with plucked stings and bass that sound like they were recorded inside a cavernous tank. Again, Baker show remarkable restraint on the track, adding layers and taking them away in subtle shifts that allow the track to unfold in a slow release of tension. Combined, the first three tracks on the release are some of the best work in the area of drone and ambient that I've heard this year. The album closes out with two tracks that don't really offer a whole lot more to the workings of the disc. "Phage" is a one-minute piece of layered and looped vocal bits, while "Lethe" is basically a slight rework of the opening track "Lapse" in which the only real difference is that the beat is looped backwards. Still, if you're a fan of drone and ambient music, definitely seek out this release, as Baker is definitely doing some great things. - Aaron Coleman
(Aural Innovations no. 23) Aidan Baker is a Toronto based musician and writer who creates slowly unfolding, ultra-hypnotic soundscapes using electric and acoustic guitars, bass, tape loops and vocals. The CD opens with "Lapse", which consists of slowly drifting and shifting soundscapes, winding Frippoid guitarscape notes, and repetitive rhythmic patterns. "Symbiosis" begins with a spacey ambient folk feel with strumming acoustic guitar and light atmospheric drones. But Baker soon employs string scratching and plucking techniques to add color and character to his creation. Along with the ghostly voices, spoken word, and chirping birds he has painted a slowly rolling pastoral cosmic landscape. "Lethe" features the heaviest use of loops, as well as the most lush and almost symphonic drones heard on the album. The longest track, and the highlight of the album, is "Lysis", which treats of to gradually evolving soundscapes with spoken word contributions from Naomi Okabe. A throbbing high note serves as the foundation and mantra for our attention, while multiple ambient and drone elements weave their lazy way through the aether. The atmosphere is dark but hypnotic, and I found myself in a near trance, floating dreamily along as this 25 minute piece evolved. After a while drum patterns are introduced and the blend of these rocking rhythms with the drugged droning pace of the soundscapes is odd but intriguing. But soon the pace, volume and intensity increase, with ethereal voices, a strange sense of melody, and freaky bubbling sounds embellishing the main theme. Finally, Frippoid guitarscapes and loops are brought in which carry us through to the end. Overall, an enjoyable journey into a dark but mind-bending dreamland. - Jerry Kranitz
(Vital Weekly no. 356) Until now I associated the Public Eyeshore label mostly with guitar cum improv cum noise, by this new one by Aidan Baker is clearly something else, something new. He plays both electric and acoustic bass guitar, tape-loops and vocals and gets a bit of help from Naomi Okabe on vocals and Lisa Rossiter-Thorton on string loops. One may remember Baker's work from the ARC collective who did a release for Piehead. Here he operates in similar territory. Ambient music with a capital A, but in a strange kind of lo-fi setting. Layers and layers of sound, instruments and effects, swirl through eachother. Small percussive loops of guitar loops, mumbling voices that are not necessiraly poetic, but certainly add to the overall melancholical feel of this release. Mainly due to its instrumentation, it's easier to classify as post rock with it's stretched out patterns of sound, then synth doodlings that ambient music also sometimes is. - Frans de Waard
(Chain D.L.K. 3/22/2003) Also active as a writer and member of the experimental collective ARC, Aidan Baker (guitars, bass, tape loops, vocals, artwork) has written a fascinating work skillfully blending words with music, transforming discourse into music and exploring the suggestive telling quality of sounds. "I fall into you / and replicate" seems to be the conceptual pivot of a work permeated by love, desire and the pains and pleasures of transformation. Aided by Naomi Okabe (vocals) and Lisa Rossiter-Thorton (string loops), Baker has orchestrated a theory of hypnotizing loops, sampled percussive patterns, manipulated string sounds and spoken passages slowly evolving in a kind of half-voiced chanting, passing from more turbulent atmospheres to a maximum of peacefullness in the last track, adequately titled "Lethe", where everything caves in and returns to silence. - Eugenio Maggi
(Dead Angel no. 55) TMU: Aidan returns with more whole-grain goodness in the land of the eternal drone. Which reminds me that i still need to send him his cd, oops....
TTBMD: Very mellow waves. A sonic journey with beats of sound coming in and out.
TMU: Yah, on "lapse" he has that shimmering drone going where there's so many layers that diddling with one makes the whole tapestry drift in a different direction. Like dust in the wind, my son.
TTBMD: This reminds me of a Scorn a little bit.
TMU: Mid-period, then? Certainly not the early stuff.... (thrashes around wildly imitating "On Ice" from first Scorn album)
TTBMD: Nah, more like GYRAL or LOGGHI BARROGHI -- it's more mellow than that, though. The beats are more in the background.
TMU: I really like that curtain of sound thing. Now here at the end he's imitating my kitchen sink, sort of.... I like the way he starts building at the beginning of "lysis" with guitars that sound almost like flutes.
TTBMD: I can see a bird flying in a cloudless sky over cold, deep waters.
TMU: As dark shapes flit far beneath the surface, yet slowly... slowly... rising... to explode in the sun.
TTBMD: Very trance-like... feels like I haven't slept in days and my insides are slowly turning into maggots feasting upon the blood between my bones.
TMU: Nah, i don't think the vibe is that dark, brutah. It feels more like... like... (strains) dust-laden rays of sunlight cascading in shafts of vibrating light as Naomi Okabe babbles something esoteric. Something i can't hear. This was recorded on a four-track and sounds really good, which only proves that it's all in the hands, not in the boxes. Technology means nothing without the atomic ass-powered brain to command it to RISE!
TTBMD: Yes, I agree.
TMU: He's drifting now... lost in clouds of subdued melody....
TTBMD: I sure would like to make a record with this guy.
TMU: He is stylin', this is true. Hypnotic drone of the cathedral of lights... Baker is... yes... the night watchman.
TTBMD: This is almost as good as the Voltage Regulator disc, and that's the shit. Serious shit. I'm going to have to pick up more Aidan Baker material....
TMU: The beginning of "symbiosis" is so quiet it creeps up on you.
TTBMD: Laid-back rhythms, like island music. Very, very good. Impressive.
TMU: This is the exotica that robots listen to when they need to unwind after a hard day's work blasting through bedrock or something. Look, it even comes with a naked chick on the cover, how much more exotica-like can you get? (shows TTBMD the saucy cover)
TTBMD: He could get way more exotic than that....
TMU: You can see her nipples, dammit!
TTBMD: Wow. I've seen nipples before.
TMU: But these are solarized nipples. Like, you know, from the solar anus or something.
TTBMD: Wow. I've seen solarized nipples before.
TMU: He's building in density here. It goes by so slowly that you almost don't notice it.
TTBMD: Yeah, things are starting to happen. It's getting busy, there's some kind of story going on here. Someone did something wrong.
TMU: The maggot men are on the loose! Slowly they prowl, like dripping lobster men, toward some beautiful girl's unwitting doom. Sinister business is afoot in the House of Drone. Gangsters in the House of Exotica. Could... could it be? The Mothership is HERE TOO....
TTBMD: Man, you see the Mothership everywhere.
TMU: I see it in Jenna Bush's underwear.
TTBMD: Oh yeah. Suuuure.
TMU: No really, I have these X-Ray Spex that I got from sending in all the Post Toasties box tops. (puts them on and smiles like Stevie Wonder)
TTBMD: Don't look at me like that, dammit.
TMU: The drone is getting heavy now. Dark bass hell is descending. The floor's dropping out. Dead men are rising to begin the Dance of the Drone Disco at 1/800th-speed.
TTBMD: A poisonous gas has been dispersed amongst the crowd. It goes in through the mouth, down the esophagus, and into the stomach and enters into the bloodstream.
TMU: The writhing is fatal. Did the Japanese chick babble again at the end or was that my imagination?
TTBMD: The poison's taking hold of the brain.. I don't know anything anymore.
TMU: Do you have any idea what she's saying on this track "phage"?
TTBMD: No, the typing of your keyboard is too loud for me to hear her. (turns up boombox) Is that truly it in terms of volume?
TMU: Tragically, yes. He opens with peculiar electronics, loops perhaps, on "lethe" -- and then the big drone kicks in, waves of shimmering guitar wash over you, and the Sound rules over all.
TTBMD: This is great shit. I love it.
TMU: Yes, we can just sit here and smoke and float away on great big clouds of melodic drone.... yes, now we float away... floating.... iiiiiiiintttoooooooooooo the niiiiiiiiiiiiight....
TTBMD: My captor has set me free, and I am back where I belong. - RKF