Already Drowning is a “song cycle” based on folklore and mythology with a guest vocalist on each track. The composer, Aidan Baker, is a classically trained multi instrumentalist based in Berlin. On this album, Baker strides manfully into that dangerous area of “pretentious twaddle” but somehow cleverly sidesteps the clichés with some rather inventive arrangements and intensity.
Ambience and texture are the buzzwords here.
The 10 minutes and counting ‘Ice’ and the stunning ‘Melusine’ being fine examples of “inventive sound painting”. Dreamy and atmospheric, the vocals slide in and out of a forest of tangled sounds and samples – hypnotic and mysterious.
‘Mien Zwilling, Mien Verlorener’ provides a folkier interlude in a slightly Wicker Man way before a remarkable ‘Lorelei/Common Tongue’ returns to a bleaker experimental platform. Distorted voices lie buried among ambient chatter and some lovely woodwind. Quite something!
It is tempting to label Already Drowning as Post Rock but I sense a more classical leaning in the Max Richter vein. Very thoughtful, minimal and beautiful. Think Ruth is Stranger than Richard with a darker edge.
From the word go the listener is transported from everyday functions into another country, quieter, darker and maybe slightly sinister. There is light and more than 50 shades of grey. Don’t let this drift by as wallpaper music listen with intent as repeated listening reveals a restrained beauty. It’s worth the effort.
Words: Keefy How.