Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bandcamp Picks: Nadja and Friends

Aiden Barker is a one-man ambient/drone industry, with close to a hundred releases to his name, not including his work with Nadja, ARC and Memosyne. Baker's work seems like a good jumping off point as I try to delve deeper into the illusive and obtuse world of doom/drone; luckily, a good deal of it is available on Bandcamp.

Nadja, featuring Baker and his wife Leah Buckareff, represented one of my earliest forays into the genre. Their incredibly burnt guitar tone and mechanical percussion conjures a images of a mescaline-fueled fuckfest between Godflesh and My Bloody Valentine (with Godflesh on top, natch).  New album Dagdrøm ("Daydream") makes more use of loud/soft dynamics than previous releases, but soft it ain't. Over the course of its 4 tracks, Dagdrøm maintains tension through somber menace, finally erupting on the sublime closer "Space Time and Absence."

Scythling features Baker and Buckareff with members of experimental doom troupe Bloody Panda. In a genre that can largely be described as heavy background noise, Smokefall succeeds by managing to be both oppressive and engaging. Swathes of feedback and white noise go a long way in approximating the preternatural menace of Black Boned Angel (also a frequent Nadja collaborator) as well as the cinematic qualities of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Keep an ear out for the hammered dulcimer, which may be metal's new cowbell.

The Primitive World is another Nadja collaboration, this time with Japanese post-rock eclecticists Vampillia. Pianos dance around Nadja's apocalyptic buzz, with the only vocals being anguished howls that make an appearance midway through the album. This is the soundtrack to demolishing buildings underwater, and possibly the heaviest thing ever done by the parties involved.

Aiden Barker's solo work is generally more ambient and less bombastic than his work with Nadja. Isolated Landscapes: A Singles Collection gives an overview as to what the man gets up to when left alone with a guitar, a mic, and a few FX pedals. Compiling songs from various 7 inches and compilations over the year, of note are a cover of Ulver's "Eitttlane" and two drone interpretations of Bach's Cello Suite #1. If Ambien had a theme song, it would probably be on here.

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