Aidan Baker: Still My Beating Heart Beats

Commode & Bleupulp: L'atelier

Naw: Terrain Vague

Minimal and experimental tech-house is the primary focus of three full-length releases by Naw (Neil Wiernik), Aidan Baker, and Commode & Bleupulp on the Québec-based label Pertin.

The crisply streaming “4 By 6” eases the listener in to the 40-minute Terrain Vague before it plunges into deep dub-house with “Glass Bell Bottom Pipeline” and “Birch Bark Ceiling Wax.” Minimal hi-hat pulses roll through reverberant swirls of muffled clatter, evoking the immersive aquatic sound of Porter Ricks' Biokinetics, suggesting that Wiernik would like nothing more than to fill the substantial void left by Chain Reaction's current inactivity. “90 Degree Descent” works up an especially enticing broil of clicks and burble during its nine-minute duration while the clubby “Sprawl” struts with a slightly harder edge. Though not groundbreaking, Naw's material, in classic minimal fashion, evidences no shortage of sonic detail.

More experimental by design, Still My Beating Heart Beats by Toronto-based musician and writer Aidan Baker typically buries broken beats under smothering masses of ambient textures and psychedelic haze. It's a novel concept but a not always successful one, specifically during those moments when tracks juxtapose parallel streams of rhythms and ambient noise rather than melding them into a satisfying union. Whereas “Slow Crawl” effectively positions the billowing flutter of percussive patterns under a dense blanket of haze, the promising hint of hip-hop in “Trestle” largely vanishes beneath thick swirls. Still, whatever one's reservations, it would be difficult to deny that the dizzying, twelve-minute “Bloodflow” stokes a rather incredible cauldron of abstract sound.

L'Atelier is both a remixing exercise involving Commode and Bleupulp plus a collection of individual tracks made during the past year. Titles allow one to differentiate easily between the groups, though sonic similarities alone would make it possible to do so. While Commode's “wAN,” for example, is glitchy tech-house accented by dark stabs and Bleupulp's “Wan_” is propulsive dub-house, there's a common core to both despite their obvious contrasts. Bleupulp opts for spacious, rippling dub textures in “It's No Where Hood” and “Nasty Hood” while Commode favours a bubbly tech-house style, his “fAUX sEMBLANT” an especially memorable slice of bright tribal techno and “Circus” rather reminiscent of Orac's infectious clickhouse.

September 2005