Arc Arkhangelsk

Arc Arkhangelsk
Aidan Baker’s Nadja have been receiving more and more attention for their incredible fusion of metal, ambience and experimentation. Between his solo work and his doom-y Nadja project, Baker’s racked up well over 20 recordings in the last year. ARC, though, have been relatively less active. The "r” and "c” of the band are Richard Baker and Christopher Kukiel, on drum kit and percussion, respectively. With Aidan pitching in on drums as well, Arkhangelsk kicks up a storm of rhythmic information. Each of the four tracks is improvised. The sound recalls ’80s bands like Savage Republic and Bosho, who updated Krautrock by exploring thunderous rhythms from around the world within a jazz/rock-based percussion setup. However, these rhythms aren’t precise and interlocking, they are as textural as rhythmic. In quieter sections, the jittery percussion has the deftness of free jazz drummer Paul Lytton, but eventually the metallic sounds, snare and walls of toms melt into loud ambience. The disc’s highlight is a soaring guitar solo five minutes into "The Valley Of Dry Bones,” which rises above the din and further concentrates the intensity. Even though Aidan’s ever-present drones are a shade lighter than usual, the furious rhythmic freedom packs a wallop.

This is your first recording with ARC in a little while. How have things changed and what has remained the same?
Aidan Baker: ARC have not been especially active the last few years, as we’ve all been focusing on other things (other projects, school, etc.). We used to play shows quite often but that’s dropped down to perhaps once or twice a year now, which might be beneficial to a certain degree, as all our performances are improvisational. We are quite comfortable playing together but I think if we play too much the resulting sounds are too similar. So keeping some space between our shows keeps things fresh for us.

There is an overall lighter feel to the ambience of this disc. Agree? If so, was it intentional?
Actually, I think this album is a bit darker and heavier than some of the previous ARC recordings, at least in parts. Perhaps there’s a bit more variety of tone and texture, which might account for a sensation of lightness. As for intentions, we don’t really have them when we go into a performance, rather we allow the music to lead us where it will. (Epidemie)