Noveller / Aidan Baker: Colorful Disturbances

Gown: The Old Line

Colorful Disturbances pairs a side-long piece by Torontonian Aidan Baker with Brooklyn, New York-based Sarah Lipstate who contributes two spectral settings under the Noveller name using nothing more than electric guitar, voice, and tape player for gear. Her pieces—fifteen minutes in total—are atmospheric formations of powerful design. Graceful picking brings “Under the Color Cave” to life, after which Lipstate augments its suspended motion with slow-burning tendrils that deepen and darken the track's meditative mood without destroying the balance. As hypnotic in its slow unfurl of shuddering pulses and spacey warble, “White Rabbit” plunges further down the rabbit hole when Lipstate's distorted voice surfaces near the track's end. Baker's side-long “Disturbances Part 1 & 2” hovers overhead like an immense black cloud, its droning, wave-like shudder a pointillistic, Rorschach scrim on the surface of which shimmering micro-melodies dart hither and yon.

Some may know Andrew MacGregor from the collaborative work he's done with Thurston Moore in Bark Haze, but The Old Line finds him operating in solo mode under the name Gown. The Nova Scotia resident works up five guitar-based settings—instrumental and vocal—of forceful design across the vinyl slab's sides. On the positive side, the instrumental pieces are powerful. In the opener “Roots,” blistering and clangorous sheets of distorted guitars bleed over one another, while in the orgiastic workout “Full Moon Morning,” bluesy shards collectively interweave like vultures circling roadkill until the guitars swarm so feverishly, they blur into a raging torrent. It's a shame, though, that he opted to include vocals as the tracks where they appear are diminished by their presence. “My Shade” would be a more satisfying stream of echoing guitar lines splintering into the distance were it not for the sour residue his off-key singing leaves on some of it. Likewise, the title track's morphine-soaked ambiance is already dark enough all by its lonesome without his vocals factored into the equation.

January 2010