A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Daniel Baker – Man To Man Bacon Swapping

daniel bakerThere’s a new batch of releases out on Hand Loom Lament, our favourite purveyors of Budget Dole Noise.

First to fall under our knife is from Daniel Baker, which is the birth name of label head Ship Canal.

from one living room to another.

Man To Man Bacon Swapping is 4 tracks of “uncomfortably intimate living room improv excretions and Skol-tin percusso working class sound poems farted out on one solitary evening of despair,” to use the man’s own words.

There is a Jandek-ian quality to these electronic incantations – rough hewn and laid straight to tape. A feeling on solitude, of eavesdropping through the walls of some cheap, endless tenement.

What’s interesting about MBS is how it seems like some folk improvisation, i think i even hear some strings, although radically resonated and detuned. Call if folk electronic – cheap noise is embraced, tapes are cut up in an old industrial way – the ASCII spectre of Throbbing Gristle grinning.

But it’s still a living room jam, on and on into the night. You can sense the air of the room – this is not virtual electronica. Although it uses electronics and rhythms.

“Britians Hardest”, the album opener, is probably my favorite of the bunch. It opens with some lonesome feedback, an aurora borealis of creeping tones, far away. Resonating strings place you in some glittering sewer system that is both creepy and wondrous. It’s disconcerting, and you don’t really know what’s going on, but you feel like you may be taking part in some underwater black metal ritual. The occasional whisper creeps in.

I was reminded of the pagan poetry of <strongDead Raven Choir, which takes the essence of black metal, but translates it through folk instruments and jazz and poetry. Similarly, Daniel Baker seems to muster black metal’s ambiance, ritualism, lo-fi tendencies and inherent sense of otherworldly menace, but he paints with an electronic pallet instead of drums and distorted guitars. Rhythm machines and tone boxes are his pallet. He seems to be coming from kind of a classic noise background ethos, as well, that prides itself on handmade industrial meditations made in limited quality. The shitty made into art.


Track 2, “Women’s Prison”, is longer and darker. It starts off with an echoing tape loop rhythm, until some backwards 20s jazz comes in. And then the cave wind. There is a flickering quality to this music, particularly at the end, that is oddly and quietly disturbing. It reminds me of TG’s “Hamburger Lady”.

The incantatory dark ambiance is somewhat shattered by “The Sheer Excitement”, which comes on like Merzbow’s dolphins swimming with Leviathan. It then turns into a radio seance, while a mothership hovers nearby. True sparking electronics, proper noise moves. There is a sound, a particularly clamorous tintinnabulum that comes in, that sounds either like a railroad crossing in slow motion, or huge wrenches being dropped in a cavernous space repetitively.


Conversely, the last, and longest track, “Dibble (Don’t Leave Me Alone)” is like watching yr whole life, cut-up and fast forwarded through dirty tenement windows. Digital noise is accentuated to become rainbow petri dishes of organic audio, as what could be sniped marketing phone calls, or illicit roommate recordings, are chopped and diced. Sounds of paranoia – of transforming the digital dreck of our lives into signposts along the way. Sounds like eavesdropping on the telephone, or through apartment walls, high on bexedrine. The paint is peeling…

There’s an inexplicable 10 minute pause, before flickering into life – ghost voices coming from the corners. Suggests to me that this record is intended as incidental music or sound installation, a portal of weirdness churning in your living room, or wherever you listen to music. A ghost box, a vortex, one night’s infected madness, in term infecting yours, like a puddle of darkness.

This album will best appeal to those that like handmade electronic fiddling: Ekoplekzes’ reverberations, Nate Young‘s horrorscores, Kareem‘s sound hatch. I could even hear elements of Loscil, with a particularly underwater type of dub riddim, particularly towards the beginning of the record. There are dance aesthetics, here, but they fall into the service of a cut-up, tape-machine tradition, think William S. Burroughs, Throbbing Gristle, the whole of the xeroxed noise underground.

Hand Loom Lament claims to make budget dole noise for no one in particular. Ratty, raggedy, homespun experimental music – just the way we love it. I love personal documents, handmade things, a sense of the personality in the artwork, and the sense of supporting the artist when you pay attention to their work.

I applaud Daniel Baker and company for spreading the mission of trve, interesting experimental art. Of the rough-noise aesthetic, the dada antics and the sense of humor that come with it. Just because he doesn’t necessarily take himself that seriously doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take his music seriously, however. His soundscapes teem with scraps of life, dense layers that push and pull and suck the air, as digital information is shot ‘cross yr cortex, like some kind of hypereducation.

Daniel Baker has something to say, and will say it, at any costs. His is a weird, radiophonic, surreal strain of the virus, and we’re all a bit weirder for it’s existence.


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