Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker Fantasma Parastasie

[Alien8; 2008]

Styles: ambient, noise, doom
Others: Fennesz, Belong, Philip Jeck, William Basinski

On Fantasma Parastasie, Nadja’s Aidan Baker teams with fellow Canadian Tim Hecker on their first collaborative album for Alien8 Recordings (though, both have released solo albums for the label). Anyone familiar with either Nadja or Baker’s solo work will instantly recognize the spots where he chimes in, but Hecker is the more prominent voice here. In fact, the album bears striking similarities to the aesthetic of Hecker's previous releases -- Harmony in Ultraviolet, the Atlas 10-inch, even his single track Norberg EP. Not too surprising, as Hecker’s modus operandi is the same as ever: glitchy, static-torn noise with plenty of lovely melodies.

But any hint of redundancy is offset by Baker's heavier contributions to pieces like “Skeleton Dance” and “Phantom On A Pedestal.” Baker anchors Hecker’s melodies with a pressurized heaviness that hasn’t yet been taken to this extreme in his solo works. (If this collaborative effort is any indication of where Hecker’s next full-length is headed then it may just be his most dense and complex album yet.) Hecker, in return, fleshes out the doomier elements of Baker’s down-tuned sludge with bright, bold strokes of melody. Each artist is clearly functioning in service to the strengths of the other.

The album does fizzle out into a nearly inaudible drone on the album's final track, ending the album on a somewhat anti-climactic note. But this lost momentum during its final stretch only slightly hurts the album. The rest of Fantasma Parastasie is so stunning a representation of their respective crafts that the aesthetic switch-up only serves to punctuate their strengths.

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