Aidan Baker – “There is so much more music now and it is so much more readily available, that it takes more effort to glean out that which is worthy of attention and appreciation”

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I hope this will not sound as an offense, but your set of records looks like one of the most tidy and structured I’ve seen through this blog. I’m not referring only to the fact that all records seem to be put in strict alphabetical order, but I get some sense of ‘balanced organization’. Your records cover most of genres, ages, currents, attitudes. Like if you wanted to taste everything was produced in the field of let’s say ‘high level western alternative music’. I can’t see ‘out of place’ items, like unexpected CD-R of cheap US pop or a the usual classic music stuff that most of us have. Like if you seriously selected time after time.

Well, I do like things to be properly organised… and if my collection seems to be ‘well balanced,’ I should say that I sold off or gave away the majority of my music when we left Canada and moved to Europe — those CDs that I kept were those especially important to me and most of the vinyl I have accumulated here in Berlin. So, in a sense, it is true that this is seriously selected collection, as it is a essentially a second pass at building a record collection. I’m sure my original collection back in Canada would have seemed less discerning… though of course, now that we’re in the digital age, I can still have mp3s of those guilty pleasures on my harddrive without it being necessary to have a physical copy.

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Legendary Pink Dots seem to mean a lot to you, and if I well remember Nadja have been remixed by Edward Ka-Spell, right?

The Legendary Pink Dots are important to me, yes. I first heard them back in 1991 with the release of their album “The Maria Dimension” and it opened up a world of experimental electronic music that I wasn’t really familiar with before. I was mostly listening to punk and hardcore at this point in my life and while I was familiar with electronic artists like Brian Eno or Jean Michel Jarre, following the connections of Pink Dots’ collaborators and similar acts led me to artists like Nurse With Wound, Coil, and Throbbing Gristle.

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Ok, I see, ti makes sense. In this selection you made while moving from a continent to another, an impression is that you kept quite a lot of guitar-based stuff, of a various kind. I see for instance Main, one of my favorite bands ever, Durutti Column, that I also love, and more deviated kinds of rock, like the Dead C, Caspar Brötzmann, Skullflower… Your musical production is variegated and you moved continuously from a genre to another, even changing the instruments you play… what pushes you to a certain direction in music?

While I do have classical music training, I am self-taught on guitar, so I have always been drawn to and influenced by non-traditional guitarists like Brötzmann or Robert Hampson, Glenn Branca, Kevin Shields, PJ Harvey, Steve Albini, and so on.

As for pursuing different styles of music, it is, in part, to challenge myself – but it is also simply to share my appreciation for those different styles. I also find that ‘experimental’ music can often be cloistered or exclusionary, which I think is antithetical to what music should be about… not that there aren’t genres of music I dislike, but still.

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NWW, Coil and TG are the kind of ‘heavy listening’ I love, I think that they made that effect of opening up a world to many people. Is there anything more recent that made the same effect on you?

While I suppose they are not that much more recent than Coil or TG, Godflesh similarly opened me up to a lot of new genres and styles of music. To metal, in one direction, through their Earache connection — bands like Brutal Truth, Napalm Death, and O.L.D. (assuming one calls O.L.D. metal) — and electronic artists like Scorn and Techno Animal, in the other.

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Yeah I do love O.L.D. also, and most of the work done by James Plotkin! But you keep mentioning bands that have their birth late in three 90s or even earlier. Is there any let’s say “contemporary” artist you like (apart of the many you worked with, that I assume are fitting your tastes)? Or are you like some of nowadays listeners, quite bored of the actual musical offer?

Well, yes, I am speaking about formative bands that take up a good part of my record collection, and my formative years were in the late 80s, early 90s. And while it is tempting to say that contemporary music is vapid and derivative, I don’t really think it is any more so now than in years past – it’s just that there is so much more music now and it is so much more readily available, that it takes more effort to glean out that which is worthy of attention and appreciation. This, I guess, is both the boon and bane of living in the digital age. As for some current contemporary favourites, I quite like the Norwegian noise/sludge/improv trio MoE, the UK psych/noise collective GNOD, and the Finish experimental rock group Circle.

Aidan Baker is a classically-trained musician from Toronto, Canada and currently based in Berlin, Germany. His primary instrument is the electric guitar, with which explores sounds ranging from ambient/electronic, neo-classical, free-jazz, and experimental/noise. In addition to his solo work, he is also active with various group projects, most notably the ambient/doom duo Nadja.

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