First, it must be noted that “Gathering Blue” features some truly brilliant packaging. With a heavy gatefold sleeve graced with beautiful panoramic still-life photography and two thick slabs of swirled blue/white vinyl, it’s enough to just want to frame it and put it on display somewhere. But what’s in the grooves makes it equally as attractive for repeated spins on the turntable as well.
Bringing together new and previously released material, “Gathering Blue” finds Baker in a quite tranquil mood, with only trace elements of his doomier output with Nadja cropping up here-and-there. The bulk of the album consists of shimmering guitar and violin drones. With the tracks from the previously released “Cicatrice” EP, which fills out the third side and is the album’s centerpiece of sorts, these drone textures give way to subtle melodic bass tones, looping string scrapes, and blurred vocals. When more defined vocals and guitar strumming appear elsewhere, as on Baker’s cover version of the Joy Division song “Twenty-Four Hours” or on “Bond of Blood”, the overall sound brings to mind a washed out, monotonous version of Low circa “Long Division”. The final side, featuring material from the “The Taste of Summer on Your Skin” EP (I believe), ventures off into an almost leftfield electronica realm with fractured breakbeats on the opening track and looping, crackle’n’pop textures in the later part.
At times the sound seems a bit muffled in places making it difficult to penetrate some of the surface textures and to get at some of the subtle gestures at play; however, a good pair of headphones reconciles this and makes for a totally immersive listening experience. 7/10 -- David Perron (20 August, 2009)