It’s starting to feel like one of those years where Aidan Baker will dominate the landscape of new music.
Already with a number of 2022 releases under his belt, both under his own name and Najda (the fantastic Napela at the top of the pile), Baker doesn’t just take the scenic route on You Are All At Once. He explores a totally different orbit.
While Baker has spent most of his creative years focusing on dissonance and hypnotic aural bludgeoning, on You Are All At Once the Canadian experimental pioneer excavates the cold terrains of slowcore to devastating effect.
Throughout this incredible journey lies a deathly hum, as Baker conjures up an atmosphere so quiet, you can almost hear the blood running through your veins.
’90s slowcore touchstones, Codeine and Spokane, are notable influences here, but Baker underpins the origins of the genre with drone; an informed idea which takes slowcore to surprising new destinations.
It all starts with a If I Take More Than You Give. With a cinematic thrum, Baker’s voice quietly rides above rippling percussion, hymnal guitar lines and an eerie synth. It’s a song that unfurls like a winter fog across the frozen river bank.
And that fog doesn’t lift on the title track. While slightly more upbeat, instead of being weighed down by the ominous milieu of If I Take More Than You Give, Baker continues to explore and revel in it, as tones shift and darken throughout the backend of the song.
That dark passage is fully explored on closing track All We Think We Are. Clocking in at over 28 minutes, not one second feels wasted, as Baker presents slowcore in beautiful new protracted ways. With a dark, floating-in-the-ether vibe, All We Think We Are sees Baker cross-pollinating his ideas with the world Bark Psychosis immersed themselves in with their epic cut, Scum.
On You Are All At Once there is a naked intimacy simply not heard during Baker’s previous works, both in a solo a capacity and his wide array of projects. On this occasion abrasiveness is wholly consumed by tenderness, with Baker going so far against the grain, it’s like an artist reinventing themselves.
Not only is You Are All At Once a crucial addition to the Aidan Baker canon; as far slowcore albums go, there simply won’t be a better one this year.
You Are All At Once is out now via Broken Spine. Purchase from Bandcamp.