Despite only releasing music since the year 2000, Canada’s poet and multi-instrumentalist Aidan Baker has accumulated an immense discography so far. The songs for ‘Already Drowning’ were inspired by myths about female water spirits and with the rich level of detail on show, one wonders how he finds the time to have made this record, let alone all the others.
The title track ensures the dark shadow is cast early on. Clara Engel’s wounded vocals search desperately for solace but the omnipresent sense of doom provided by the slowcore backing ensures there is no light to be found. Importantly the song rises from its languid pace to approach levels of urgency and danger and by the end of it you appreciate you’ve been on an exhausting yet rewarding journey. Then the quiet, often spoken word vocals of Jessica Bailiff contrast neatly with a full string section for the sombre ’30 Days/30 Nights’. Thereafter, though the messages are delivered in a consistently melancholic fashion, there’s plenty of stylistic differences between songs from acoustic simplicity (‘Mein Zwillihng’), to post-rock/jazz (‘Mélusine’), whilst ‘Tout Juste Sous La Surface’ is engulfed in a nightmarish swirl of noise.
Music such as this can occasionally come across as rather cold and it’s true that some of these songs – not helped by the leaden pace – convey austere art rather than moving music. Nevertheless, the fifty five minutes contained here is impressively intense, powerful and superbly arranged; calling to mind the tragedy and mystery of the This Mortal Coil project.
Portishead, This Mortal Coil