Album Reviews

Trio Not Trio: Yn Gyntaf

The first of Aidan Baker’s new collaboration series features Stacy Taylor and John Colpitts.

Aidan Baker continues to explore beyond the conventional methods of, well, just about everything. Just when you think the Berlin-based Canadian experimental pioneer has covered every inch of God’s green earth, after three decades of obliterating boundaries, it continues with his latest series of works as Trio Not Trio.

Following the gooey psychedelic odyssey of Baker Ja Lehtisalo’s Crocodile Tears – the project Baker carved out alongside Circle’s Jussi Lehtisalo – with Trio Not Trio, Baker has scoured the dark frontiers, bringing to life one of the most compelling collaboration series in 2023.

Beginning in 2022 as a succession of improvisational recording sessions where Baker played alongside another Berlin-based musician, he then sent the recordings to an international artist to add their own part.

Which brings us to the seemingly Welsh-inspired Yn Gyntaf. The first in a series of five release that boasts some of the most original voices from the underground all across the world, Yn Gyntaf features Oneida and Man Forever’s John Colpitts (aka Kid Millions), and Berlin-based U.K. vocalist, Stacy Taylor, who recently released her debut EP under the Sarrf moniker, Healing is a Dirty Word.

Dark Passage: In Conversation with Nadja’s Aidan Baker

Best known to many for his belligerent assault from behind the drum-kit with Oneida, having recently seen Colpitts in action on the band’s U.K./European tour, the terms “worth the price of admission” and “best in the world” were bandied about by a friend stood next me. After seeing Colpitts’ performance, it was hard to argue, and soon after it was clear that Jim White wasn’t the sole occupant atop of that particularly creative summit.

Alongside Taylor’s soaring vocalisations and Baker’s void-like drones – the latter fast becoming as distinctive as Colpitts drumming – on Yn Gyntaf the trio combine for an amplified racket that pushes and pulls in every direction.

Trio Not Trio - Yn Gyntaf

The opening title track, Ail and Trydydd come as a trilogy of sorts, as one composition bleeds into the next. Taylor’s séance-like vocal chants follow Colpitts’ rollercoaster rhythms, while Baker’s eerie passages of noise act as an ephemeral spirit drifting through the lifeless hallways deep into the night.

Minimal in its approach, Pedwerydd sees Taylor take centre stage; her moody vocal fighting against Baker’s lingering dreadscapes that are like a portal that leads to the void. On Pumed, she then puts Colpitts and Baker on the spot, dragging them through a cinematic haze of dreamscapes in what is the most accessible either have been a part of.

ALL HANDS_MAKE LIGHT: “Darling The Dawn”

It doesn’t last long of course, and far removed from anything on Yn Gyntaf, Chweched sees Baker taking the reins. Heavy in tone and sharp as razor wire, this is fractured space-rock reminiscent of Bardo Pond in a tug of war with Justin Broadrick.

The 20 minute closing encounter of Seithfed sees Baker continue through the lens of his latest Hypnodrone Ensemble LP, The Signal in the Signal. Amid Taylor’s abstract melodies and Colpitt’s meandering percussion, Seithfed is an elastic drone assault that blasts you into orbit, exploding with with dark undercurrents and electric shocks of noise.

Revelling in the realms of collaboration, Taylor and Colpitts deliver outrageously spirited performances. With the following four Trio Not Trio releases featuring the likes of Melissa Guion (MJ Guider), Rohan Rebeiro (My Disco), baritone saxophonist, Sofía Salvo, and Tobias Humble (Tricky, Gang Of Four, Ghostpoet), it’s shaping up as a hallmark year for Aidan Baker. For those who wish to spend the rest of 2023 down the Baker/Nadja wormhole, well, there are worse places to be. It’s exciting times for the Nadja architect, and Yn Gyntaf is yet another robust weapon in the cache.

Yn Gyntaf is out via Gizeh Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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