Saturday, August 8, 2020
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Artist: Aidan Baker & Gareth Davis
Title: Invisible Cities II
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Karlrecords
Two years after the debut collaboration from Aidan Baker on guitar and Gareth Davis on clarinet, here’s the sequel. Five long, atmospheric and meditative compositions built from loose melodies, with plenty of post-production layering and reverb effects. For the most part the clarinet is performed conventionally, while the guitar work is more invested into the dark atmospherics and effects work.

The first and longest piece “Hidden” sets an interestingly ambiguous tone that different listeners will interpret differently as either relaxing or sinister depending on whether they latch on to the gentle and pure clarinet sounds, or some of the lower rumbling drones and near-vocal grumbling below it and the crisp radio interference noises it ends with.

This tone persists without any great diversion through the deep-jungle-invoking sonic imagery of “Eyes”, through the sombre graveyard tones of “The Dead”, and into the barren, empty underworld of “Continuity”. The differences between pieces is fairly subtle throughout, though final track “Names” is notable for losing some of the rumblier tones in favourite of a more sedate palette, as though the previous tracks were set at night and this is a form of dawn to finish.

The consistency is both a blessing and a curse. Overall it’s a very coherent and quite single-minded 43-minute work, setting a filmic atmosphere- but any film that painted only one mood for this long would be accused of being dull. Such is the danger with this- if you’re not completely immersed and engaged with it, it may well leave you cold.


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