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Aidan Baker & Plurals – Glass Crocodile Medicine


Not to be consumed by those prone to anxiety, or afflicted with low levels of patience.

The formation of such an album is a strange thing, completely new to me. This is a Latitudes release, an idea created by Southern Recording studio that has been going on for a number of years. From reading the site, it seems bands come in for a day or so and work on some material, I assume always completely improv. They have a number of releases, some collaborations and others not. Latitudes is what the record label calls these ‘Series of limited edition session recordings‘, ‘Glass Crocodile Medicine’ being one of many. A number of years ago, Aidan Baker and Plurals went on tour in the latters homeland of UK.  Plurals is an experimental band I know little of, and the music on this album sounds a lot more like them than Aidan Baker and his Nadja material.

Some things take time, and Aidan Baker, with the folks in Plurals, have shown the amount of reserve they have. The first track, ‘Dead Foxes  in the Street‘, is a song quite unlike anything I have ever heard before.  Three minutes in, and only some reverb, a few distinct notes dangling in the air, and that incredible feeling of anticipation. Four minutes in, and the tension is no longer bearable. It’s that sensation of awaiting a moment, a kiss, or your favorite bands endearing song during a concert. Yet, it is not disappointment, but relief when you recognize the waiting is over. It was already here, all along, it was no build up, no waiting. In the linear thinking model of our culture we have this myth that things are supposed to go somewhere. This goes nowhere, it neither builds up nor creates suspense for that classical explosive moment. Not that these methods are a negative approach towards song writing, its just different with this album in the  Latitudes series . Instead, from the very first second is the song in the moment. No single aspect of the song is the defining characteristic, where other parts of the song are written around to support that part.

Traditionally, a song structure has a intro, a chorus, and a bridge, ending with the outro. Even songs of the Avant-Garde nature often include some kind of momentum, an obvious point between one part of the song and after. This Latitudes release is an experience, from the very beginning is the moment to contain yourself within, to fully engage with. Strangely, after repeated listens it still seems that this is leading up to something. So while listening, I am waiting for the song to go somewhere, instead of being with the song as it goes along. This, my friends, is an apt metaphor for life.

Experiences like this remind me of the incredible 80’s film Contact, during the final court room scene. If ever a sample would fit a song, this is it. I can almost hear Jodie Foster talking about how she had an undeniable experience, impossible to elaborate on. The experience of listening to this track is beyond human, beyond our concept of language. This is purely experiential. It is akin to astral projecting into another world, and coming back knowing you went somewhere, you did something, but like a dream it is impossible to explain, even to your own mind.

I know something was heard, a song was played, this monotonous resonating tone and what sounds like whistles and chimes and other effects are audible, yet transitory in nature. It is slow, with the illusion of buildup that lacks the explosive power of Nadja, and gains an ability to transcend the realm of what music is.

Turning Children Into Mice‘, (perhaps an animal totem) begins with a few notes being plucked, again and again. The concept is very much the same as the first track, and both songs make this album over half an hour long.  Much like ‘Dead Foxes…’, a certain level of patience is required, yet it does not quite contain the discomforting anxiety. A bit more reserved, it’s actually quite calming after how nervous the first track felt. The mix of electronics and the echo of a guitar creates a sound scape which insists on contemplation. A somatic expression cautiously manifesting into a familiar journey, the sounds of an apparitions screams bring forth life from the spirit of the machine.  While this track is easier to digest, therefore explain, its beauty is partially in how well it contrasts its companion song. The same notes never get boring, only going deeper into the core of your being, resonating with something inexplicable within. As various noises alleviate and dissipate, the struggles of this adventure are meditated upon. Despite the difficulties, somehow it all seems worth it in the end.

Track List:

01) Dead Foxes In The Street
02) Turning Children Into Mice

Rating: 4/5
Written by: Patrick Bertlein
Label:  Latitudes (UK) /CD+LP  / GMT032D
Post Rock / Instrumental

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