Aidan Baker / Thisquietarmy ‎– Hypnodrone Ensemble

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[Reviewed by: vitriol]

When you read the title of this you might be inclined to expect something smooth and relaxed, some drones that you can lose yourself in and daydream with. Boy, are you in for a surprise! The ensemble in question is a collaboration between the prolific Aidan Baker and Eric Quach of Thisquietarmy, who have enlisted the help of three – yes, you are reading this correctly, three – drummers: David Dunnett, Felipe Salazar and Jérémie Mortier. They did a live performance at the NK Berlin, the result of which is this record. A 41-minute long track that is released in CD format by Belgian label Consouling Sounds.

Two guitars, three drummers and nothing more, presenting their material live on top of that, it’s quite an experiment! And yet the musicians pull it off beautifully, the drums taking the lead as is only natural, and the guitars adding volume and substance to a sound that flirts heavily with progressive and krautrock structures but also has a solid base in post-rock expansiveness and musical introversion. Introversion in the sense that the musicians are so obviously and completely immersed in their performance that when listening to the album you can almost see them bent over their instruments, allowing the music to take them anywhere it likes.

Other than that “Hypnodrone” is very intense, it never remains on the quiet side of things. Besides the first few minutes where we get some introductory, atmosphere-setting drones and the drums haven’t begun to map out a concrete rhythm just yet, there are no real intermissions anywhere. Just this massive beast of rhythm and sound relentlessly rolling down like an avalanche, and an intensity that can only lead to a crescendo. I cannot help but admire the sheer volume of the whole thing. By the time we reach the final crescendo we have already been submitted to various smaller ones, often of ear-deafening proportions. Half a minute’s pause to catch our breath, and off we go again.

But despite what one may imagine, the track isn’t just a wall of drumming and guitar noise. There’s undeniable harmony and musicality here, and you can still get lost in it. Even though the listener gets that traditional feeling of an endless improvisation, the attention given to the composition and execution of the music is evident. Isn’t that what a good live performance is about? The mastering is impeccable, the instruments blend perfectly together and there’s a clearly defined structure that unfolds from the beginning, displaying an admirable amount of skill, creativity and confidence on behalf of the musicians. I’d say the experiment is largely successful, and would urge you to play this one loud.

Aidan Baker / Thisquietarmy ‎– Hypnodrone Ensemble
Consouling Sounds, SOUL0041
CD 2014

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