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The Abstract Finds Form in Past and Future through Aidan Baker & Claire Brentnall’s “Delirious Things”

Aidan Baker is easily one of the most prolific artists in the world today, so it is always interesting to drop in and see what he has recently concocted. For well over a decade, his constant output from Nadja and his solo material has stretched the limits of ambient, shoegaze, and electronic experimentations, and his various collaborations have never disappointed before, so I expected nothing less here. I was more than curious to see how this well-known drone musician would mix the 4AD sound with contemporary ideas of electronic ambient music today, and he found the perfect person to collaborate with for the project in Claire Brentnall of Shield Patterns, who graces Baker’s electronics with a dreamy voice that is strongly reminiscent of many of the artists that inspired this album.

Being that Delirious Things is song-structured as opposed to simply ambient or experimental, it is quite a different album from most of Baker’s previous material. Of course, I have not heard every one of the hundred-plus albums he has been a part of, so I easily could be mistaken here, but I am fairly certain this is new territory for him. The basic structure is using an old Casio synthesizer to create the rhythm with layers of noises in the background, all behind Brentnall’s dreamy voice. Mixing a number of styles, from eighties coldwave to nineties dreampop and more, Baker and Brentnall have mixed a bit of everything from the nostalgic sounds of decades before to the futuristic throwback electronics of today. In this, Delirious Things offers itself to a wide collective of music fans, so long as they can appreciate ethereal vocals with intermittent hypnotic ambiance.

Aidan Baker & Claire Brentnall

Consisting of five songs and three interludes, it flows in between danceable tunes and familiar ambience, often within the same track. A song like “Dead Languages” could easily be a dance club hit with its pulsating and swelling beats, while “Wingless” has a great Joy Division rhythm going on which fits nicely with Brentnall’s dreamy vocals. “Always Leaving”’s calm setting creates a space for the album closer, “Shivering,” and its whisperings of Jesu-style doom, which is all set in place by the three intermittent interludes which keep this grounded in familiar territory, focusing a bit more on the ambient and abstract, which gives substance to the,main tracks on the album.

These soothing yet energetic songs are a must not only for all of Bakers fans, but anyone who’s into synth-driven music with female vocals. They have created a time warp, merging current deconstructions of noise with the 4AD sound, and the listener becomes stuck in this vortex. Delirious Things really does create the perfect mixture of various sounds that appeals to a number of tastes. This could have come out decades ago and been considered ahead of its time, while it also fits right in with a number of artists from today who have similar interests in the past while keeping their sound modern.

Track List:

01) Delirious Things
02) Interlude I (Shivers)
03) Dead Languages
04) Interlude II (Wax)
05) Wingless
06) Always Leaving
07) Shivering

Written by: Patrick Bertlein
Pleasance Records (Canada) / PR055 / 12″ LP
Gizeh Records (United Kingdom) / GZH72DP / CD
Ambient / Ethereal / Post-Punk / Electronic