I sometimes think of producing like a timebomb waiting to go off: you push to the finish of each tune like your life depended on it. But if you don’t have that timebomb, what happens? Do you let tracks sit on the shelf gathering dust and dirt? Does the lack of real virtue make you a worse producer? The first answer would be maybe, to the second, no. It’s easy to extrapolate that more time equals more procrastination, but this doesn’t make a producer fundamentally ‘bad’. Some producers take years to complete tunes, and some of these tunes are part of major works. Then there are those nifty little 30-45 minute split or collaboration records, and “Glass Crocodile Medicine”, Aidan Baker & Plurals’ first recorded music for Latitudes, fits nicely into the ‘good’ sound category. Let’s explore it a little…
“Dead Foxes In The Street” has a raga quality not unlike Paul Sharma and Terry Riley’s Poppy Nogood And The Phantom Band. Supernatural sounding synths edge the right channel like fine sandpaper on wood, slowly adapting the sheen to a glossy tremolo that recalls Boards Of Canada trapped in an elevator, without elevator music to downplay it. The build is very wave-like, introducing new layers just as a river carrying debris would. It’s aesthetically spangled, a king in robe and crown of the guitar drone underwerld. Over time you start to wonder how you arrived where you are, as if otherworldly currents can only describe it. Yet the first time I listened to this track, I felt it was too creepy, a sunken laboratory with no key. As percussion enters with a fierce intention over halfway, a lament to silence’s detour.
But gradually after hearing what followed – the equally tidal “Turning Children Into Mice”, the depth sunk in like an apartment: something accomodating various people in its time, ghosts of our age, and various pieces of furniture, converted to sonics – drones, guitar, distortion, grumbling eddies, dapper colours. The semblance within the two works and their cadence is to release the timebomb in an outstretched, conditioned way, planting its footprint across centuries of hard drives with a Ry Cooder and Robin Guthrie fan club waiting by the studio door outside. The mood is highly austere, balance being kept by a lack of stoner riffage to complicate the simple, narcotic-hypnotic frets. Smiling dream pop synth presence later edges into the groove, an Ibuprofen relief like no other.
In his book “The Language Instinct”, Steven Pinker paraphrases Charles Darwin, stating “Our flexible intelligence comes from the interplay of many instincts competing”. There are several instincts working on Aidan Baker & Plurals’ “Glass Crocodile Medicine” – intentional repetition, primal urge, urge to fidget, urge to make a bigger sound. And “indeed, the instinctive nature of human thought is just what makes it so hard for us to see that it is an instinct”. From me writing this review, to this music priorly being recorded, the Southern label has assimilated into itself – the best kind of assimilation – the fruits of a supremely menacing hybrid release that haunts long after the runtime has faded. Just ask their Allison Schnackenberg for why Aidan Baker joins Alexander Tucker as a top favourite competitor.