Review: Aidan Baker + Thisquietarmy – Orange

Initially, this one is difficult to grasp. It forever sounds unsettled, as if tugging itself in umpteen directions at once only to remain static – it’s full of internal activity but with no resultant forward motion, with drones and noises writhing anarchically into thick clouds of sound. It all feels rather nonsensical until the listener learns to pull focus and perceive each piece as an atmospheric whole, at which point the seemingly directionless entanglement of sound is seen to hold an important purpose within a grander scheme.

Orange was first released as a 30-minute EP back in 2006, with this re-release including an additional four tracks from the same studio sessions. Unfortunately, these bonus pieces sometimes take the music into places it doesn’t need to go – patches of quiet and fizzing climaxes – and I’m given the impression that their initial omission was to keep the seamless flow of the music intact. Whereas the original tracks take care to stay reasonably ambiguous and impenetrable, the latter half of this release is dotted with breathing spaces and patches of clarity that begin to unravel the music’s mystique.

But the intense chemistry between Baker and Quach is a constant. Even though this collaboration occurred remotely by a back-and-forth of audio files, there are very few moments at which it’s possible to attribute what to who (Baker’s unmistakable “unstable reactor” hum opens this release and is a rare exception). Arguably, Orange feels even more seamless and spontaneous than the real-time collaboration of the pair’s debut full-length, A Picture Of A Picture.