Listed: Little Wings + Aidan Baker
Kyle Field, has been recording songs as Little Wings for quite awhile, but only early last year, when K Records released Wonderue did he really begin to make noise. For Little Wings' most recent album, Light Green Leaves, each format (cd, lp, cassette) contained different versions of the same songs from different periods of the recording process. On the cd version, which represented the songs' final finished form, Fields' simple, and charmingly innocent pop-folk style shined brightly as fans of Will Oldham and Calvin Johnson took careful note. Light Green Leaves is now available on K Records
1. Yellowman - King Yellowman - Driving to high school with my brother, driving home from the beach in the evening in the fall.
2. Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA (Columbia) - Laying in my warm bed at midnight wearing a walkman and getting up to tell my mom about the lyrics of "Downbound Train" and how they made me feel.
3. Dirty Three - Horse Stories (Touch and Go) - Adam Selzer and Pat from Taft Hotel and I driving to San Francisco to sneak into a Dirty Three show after it was sold out. The warmth and the lull of the Dirty Three, evening stomach feelings, shady and soft.
4. Dinosaur Jr. - You're Living All Over Me (SST) - Station wagons, Duct Tape, milk crates, stocking caps, stuffed animals, a tape recorder, a pot to bang on, a cloudy fuzzy day,wearing a necklace made while drinking vodka with dathan, our "firehose" necklaces, the autumn.
5. Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime (SST) - The Douglas brothers and Sean Mcdonald, driving around on Maui with John Moore listening to this over and over and surfing warm waves.
6. Palace Music - Viva Last Blues (Drag City) - Living room in Leff Street house in SLO, Meat Puppets, driving in dark on Big Sur cliffs, new partners, new girlfriends, cold air, cold feelings.
7. Lee Baggett - Octember Sketches - Living in Avila Beach, garden, grass, voices in the trees up on the hill where Lee goes running at night by himself. He also pees outside always. A real character.
8. Silver Jews - The Natural Bridge (Drag City) - Moving out of a rented room to take up school again for a year, leaving the town behind where i met "her" and "Her", too. And packing up things that i will never unpack, also, now, "Actual Air, David's book.
9. Iron Maiden - Killers (Capitol) - Staircase Beach watching the cold morning rights roll in. Sweatshirts and sand on the floor of your car, a smelly towel somewhere in someone's trunk that will make the car smell like a beach car in a hurry.
10. Morrissey - Vauxhall and I (Sire) - Our trip to San Francisco, Ward and I ,and the two Hollys. Hearing it dark and warm and soft and letting that feeling in, by late evening you are almost in love with everything, the doors on the shops, the boats in the water in Sausalito, the people up and down the sidewalk, the hostel in the pines with people smoking outside.
Aidan Baker is a writer & musician from Toronto, Canada. A classically-trained musician, he is currently focused (primarily) on the deconstructive possibilities of the electric guitar. He is the author of two books of poetry, Fingerspelling (Penumbra Press) and Wound Culture (Unbound Books), & has released several albums on such labels as Piehead Records, Public Eyesore, & Taalem Records.
He has solo albums coming out in 2003 with Mystery Sea, Mechanoise Laboratories, DTA Records, plus a collaborative recording with Thomas Baker (Aidan's father; piano) & Alan Bloor (aka Knurl/Pholde; amplified metalworks) on Public Eyesore.
A list of the 10 most influential artists (on the formation of my [current] musical identity, at least) in order of personal discovery:
1. Pink Floyd - Sure, they ended up a corpulent, bloated beast, but in the early days, there was the acidic vision of Syd Barrett & the sound of his weird, disjointed guitar playing in wonderful, proto-space-rock tunes like "Interstellar Overdrive," "Lucifer Sam," & "Take Up Thy Stethescope and Walk." Even though Gilmour's a totally different player, he does have a lovely, liquidly minimal style of playing (& 'minimal' is not something one usually associates with 70s prog/art-rock bands). I once played "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave & Grooving With a Pict" (from Ummagumma) as an example of sound poetry in my Canadian Poetry class in college. The class didn't believe me when I told them it was Pink Floyd...
2. Sonic Youth - Guitar feedback. What else can I say. All right, this: the guitar as a tool of experimentation, a device that can build a song in so many more ways than the standard chord/riff/hook/whatever way. Confusion Is Sex & Bad Moon Rising are my favourite albums; the noisiest, the darkest, the most unbridled, the most experimental. I once compared Bad Moon Rising, in particular, to Coil (see end of list) & was called a crack-head. But, hey, there are the chanting, almost-medieval vocals, the layered drones, the squealing bursts of weird sounds, the pitch-shifted &/or distorted vocals...similar sounds, different means, alternate forums...
3. Jane's Addiction - The first band that I was in (punk rock, although we did a lot of Jane's covers, so we weren't exactly punk rock) used to argue about who was more integral in Jane's Addiction, to the creation of their unique sound. I, as a guitarist, usually argued it was Dave Navarro - I particularly liked how he had a simultaneously heavy, raw sound & a spacey, psychedelic sound; he first got me into delay pedals. But really I think they all had an equal part in creating their sound (which seems fairly evident when compared to their respective post-Jane's projects): Perkins' unconventional rhythms, Avery's minimal, precise basslines, Farrell's dirty, gritty lyrical obsessions, &, of course, Navarro's raunchy wash of guitar sound.
4. Godflesh - Mechanical bludgeoning. Heavy, bassy, slow. Cold, angular slabs of guitar riffs. Like Sabbath at half-speed with Pornography-era Robert Smith vocals (to loosely quote The Trouser Press Record Guide). I always get the sense of held-back, barely contained power with Godflesh. Like they were capable of hurting you so much more, but they are holding back & letting the idea of more pain hurt you. But pain in a good way. Sonic sublimation: transformation of negativity through grinding, crunching lock-grooves into some sort of bleakly positive outlook.
5. Swans - More bludgeoning, but less mechanical. Mournful, dirge songs obsessed with domination, humilation, worship, degredation. That same idea of sonic sublimation (TOTAL ANNIHILATION was one of their catch phrases [Neurosis had TOTAL ANNIHILATION stickers on their amplifiers last time I saw them]), & I got into the Swans largely because they were an influence on Godflesh. I'll admit a preference to Swans' later material, if only because the possibility of redemption seems a little more intangible, a little less possible, in some of those earlier songs like "Fool," "I Crawled," & "Sex, God, Sex." Swans Are Dead, the double live album documenting their last two tours, is my favourite album of theirs because it best combines the brutality of that early sound with the melancholic melodicism of the later sound (also, that last tour was the one & only time I got to see them live). Sounds like a caress...but it still leaves a bruise.
6. PJ Harvey - It's a shame that PJ Harvey didn't continue with the sounds she was making on Rid Of Me (or keep Robs Ellis and Vaughan as her rhythm section!). Her guitar playing on that record is very unique. It's deceptively simple, complex if not sonically then most definitely rhythmically. I remember reading that she didn't want to play guitar on subsequent albums but she ended up having to because no one else could play the songs the way she played them (though John Parish & Mick Harvey do decent jobs with their respective contributions). I don't dislike her more recent work but I definitely think she's dumbed it down. I suppose people have a right to want to make a living at what they do, but still...
7. The Red House Painters - Mopey & morose, meandering & mellow, elongated pop tunes of ever-wry love stories. Kozelek can be a bit hard to take, sometimes, with his mournful delivery & obs-, depressive lyrics, but in the right mood, The Red House Painters are just so achingly perfect. & he comes not from a folk/rock background, which seems the obvious connection, but a '70s rock, KISS & AC/DC background. I appreciate that disparity; you don't necessarily have to sound like your influences.
8. Caspar Brotzmann - Living in Montreal & heavily into noise-rock (Big Black, Dinosaur Jr, Drive Like Jehu, &c.), a reviewer once compared me to Caspar Brotzmann (Peter's son, saxophonist in Machine Gun, Albert Ayler contemporary, &c.) so I went out and bought Caspar's album Koksofen & liked it. Like Sonic Youth, Caspar Brotzmann treats the guitar as a tool rather than an instrument, but he writes heavy, sprawling songs (very Germanic - like if Einsteurzende Neubauten was a power trio) instead of arty NY noise-pop songs. Kind of similar to PJ Harvey as well, in his (a)rhythmic approach to playing. Equally minimal in his construction, but very maximal in his sound & scope.
9. James Plotkin - More guitar-as-tool. The liner notes of The Inner Dimensions of Sleastak, by Plotkin's old band OLD, taunts, "there is only one keyboard line on this album -- see if you can find it." Plotkin takes it further than Brotzmann or SY, though, endeavouring to completely alter the sound of the guitar, such that it's not even recognizable as guitar. Plotkin is one of my favourite ambient artists (& even though I make a lot of ambient music, I don't necessarily *like* a lot of ambient music). Plotkin's collaborative album with Mark Spybey (of Dead Voices On Air), A Peripheral Blur, is one of my all-time favourite records, the oozing guitar sounds evoking manifold moods & images...cold, bleak winter nights alone & remembering the now-spent warmth of lazy, hazy summer evenings...
10. Coil - I'd heard their name bandied about for many years (in connection with Throbbing Gristle, for one) but never really got into them, though I appreciated releases like Love's Secret Domain or Worship the Glitch. Their more recent work, though, has had much more of an impact on me, Musick to Play in the Dark I & II & the sequence of Solstice EPs in particular. Largely because they seem to have embraced something of a medieval modernity; music which sounds simultaneously antiquated/organic & futuristic/mechanical. The bio-mechanical, the organically artificial...antithesis, transubstantion...
By Dusted Magazine