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Matt Baber / Richard Wileman — Baber / Wileman
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-04-26

Baber / Wileman Cover art

Matt Baber is a composer, keyboard player and sometime drummer for the band Sanguine Hum, and Antique Seeking Nuns before that (2000-2010). Richard Wileman is or was, of course, the primary entity in the group Karda Estra (composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer) and Lives and Times (another similar band) before that, but for the last fiour years or so he has been releasing his material as a solo artist, with 2020’s Arcana being his most recent. The two first met at Rosfest in 2011 (Sanguine Hum was performing that year), and shortly after collaborated on a single track “Mondo Profondo 1,” which appeared on the Karda Estra album Mondo Profondo / New Worlds (2013). In 2020 Baber and Wileman began collaborating again, for what was only supposed to a couple tracks, but they continued their collaboration (composing and playing) throughout 2021, and it evolved into a full album project, released in early 2022. The duo composes and plays everything (and sometimes sings) on each of the album’s nine tracks — Baber concentrating on keyboards and drums, Wileman concentrating on guitars, bass, vocals, and keys as well; the only guest is Amy Fry (vocals, clarinet) who joins on three of the cuts. Their sound together is unusual, comparable to nothing else, except perhaps some of the vocal cuts are reminiscent of Wileman’s last few albums to a degree, a sort of haunting and mysterious feel. The instrumental piano opener, “Four,” underscores the eerie sounds that integrate with much of the material herein. “Souvenir“ is a beautifully engaging vocal piece driven by acoustic guitar and piano, but it has its strange moments to relish as well. The third cut, “Mondo Profondo 4,” is presumably intended to be the fourth part of the suite started back in 2013. It’s the first of several powerful instrumentals that grace the album (others include the overtly electronic “Passing Wave” — though one may chance to hear some distant voices in the background, “Three,” which serves as an instrumental interlude before the vocal piece “Emperor,” and “2009” that flows gently over a stirring and dreamy piano figure). The delicate and beautiful “Day Follows Night” contains some unusual harmonizing between Wileman and Fry, plus some clarinet from the latter in key places. Hopefully further collaborations between these two are forthcoming — their compositions and arrangements complement one another superbly.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Karda Estra / Richard Wileman, Matt Baber

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