19th January 2018

A belated happy new year. Hope everybody is enjoying 2018 so far. It all started off a little rough this end, but things are picking up again now. I’ve been enjoying working on a few tunes recently, reinstalled Ableton just to spice things up after working in Reaper for quite a while now. A piece I’m really proud of has come from these sessions, which you can hear below:

It was fun getting the guitar out again after quite a long absence.

Otherwise, a couple of dates for you: Eclipsis will be out on 26th January, and Ambisphere will follow two weeks later on 9th February.

 

29th December 2017

It’s the end of the year and recollection time. It’s been an interesting year for me, musically, and one very much of two halves. The first half of the year was incredibly busy both behind the scenes and publicly. Both Myosphere and Seltrac got incredibly overdue releases, to great response and sales, whilst a large amount of music was put together with little success of actually completing an album. This brought a mixture of satisfaction and frustration, which is a blend I’ve become incredibly familiar with over the last few years.

Since then, I’ve been making gradual changes in my own personal approach to music, and have felt a lot happier because of them. I’m taking future projects back to a much more personal level, after a few years of being more overtly active online and such. Frankly, most of the stuff I’m proudest of has sounded the least like music I’ve been listening to during its creation, and although it doesn’t always help in terms of self-promotion, I feel a lot happier existing in my own little bubble rather than as part of a music scene in general.

The first music born out of this perspective will form an album called Peregrination which I’m hoping will be released at some point in the next 12 months. Aspects of it require it to not be a cassette release, so I’ll be branching out towards labels new to me and ones I’ve not worked with for some time to get a release. Before that, there will be a few more releases next year: Eclipsis, a collection of pieces from the difficult early 2017 sessions I mentioned above, to be released on Aurawire in Jan/Feb; Ambisphere, a remastered & improved version of Ambifauna on a label who will actually give me money and respect my wishes, to be released on Asura Revolver around the same time; the fourth Winter of the World album, Croxton Kerrial, will be released on Celldeath; and The Mirror and the Light, the very long overdue Middlemarch remix album, which will come out as a CD on Carpe Sonum later in the year. These are all older works, but ones it’ll be nice to have out there.

In the meantime, I’m continuing to work on new music. For a while I think I was quite self-conscious about having an identifiable sound, but I’ve rediscovered the love of each work sounding different to those around it. It’s an approach I took early on (I once naively dreamed of getting ‘signed’ to a label to release Vacuum Road Songs, only to follow it up with the industrial-themed Dead Hymns, and wondering what fan response would be), and one I’ve realised works best for me. I recently re-designated all of my Bandcamp albums as International Debris ones, blurring the lines between Second Thought, Ross Baker and ID, and added a couple of unfairly ignored works in there (I very briefly considered returning to being Second Thought again, but thought fuck it, let’s continue to move forward). I feel more confident in my body of work in general than I have in some time, and I have some idea of how to move forward again, after the creative crisis I hit by reaching all my initial musical goals on Myosphere.

Personally, it’s been a year of ups and downs, which seems to be the norm these days. On the whole, I think I’ve come out of 2017 feeling a lot more positive and confident as a person than I went in, which, given everything that’s happened in the world, I feel is something of an achievement. My tinnitus is still here, I still have OCD attacks and I’m still stuck at my parents’ house without a clear path forward. But I have much more hope that I can get on top of things in the not-too-distant future than I have done in a very long time. I’ve realised it’s counter-productive trying to feel like I’m ‘picking up where I left off’ (a concept I’ve been very fond of in the past), but I feel like my realistic life goals are closer to those I had in 2009/2010 than they have been since that time.

I’ve listened to a fair bit of new music this year, although on the whole I’d say less than the previous few. I’ve felt it necessary to cut down my new musical intake for some time now, although doing so is easier said than done. On the whole, I find I listen to music a few times only to pop it into my collection only to be forgotten more often than every these days, and I think that’s easier dealt with by simply focusing on a smaller number of albums in the future. Quantity over quality. I’m still enjoying a lot of poppy stuff, but for the most part the only other music that fits largely into the rock/pop/dance categories is stuff by artists I’m already familiar with. I’ve found most new music I’ve enjoyed lately tends to fall largely into classical / jazz / early new age / improvised music / avant-garde / folk and similar realms. Maybe my brain is just preparing me for the fact that next year I’ll be closer to my 40s than my 20s, but discovering labels like ECM and Windham Hill, and delving further into artists like Deuter and Miles Davis seems to have enthused my listening a lot more than trying to find new ambient techno and indie artists who excite me. That said, my top 10 albums of 2017 list is relatively low on surprises for those who are already familiar with my taste:

1. Paul Draper – Spooky Action
2. Roddy Woomble – The Deluder
3. The Future Sound of London – Archived : Environmental : Views
4. Max Richter – Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works
5. Lorde – Melodrama
6. Wire – Silver / Lead
7. Off Land – On Earth
8. 36 – Black Soma
9. Carbon Based Lifeforms – Derelicts
10. London Grammar – Truth is a Beautiful Thing

Anyway, it’s 2018 in a couple of days, and providing the political state of the world doesn’t become even more inflamed, I’m hoping to personally make it through to the end of the year with positivity and purpose. And lose a couple of stone while I’m at it. I always said I’d wake up on my 30th birthday and find myself a fat fucker, and although it’s been a more insidious process, it’s happened and I need to do something about it.

I hope everybody reading had a wonderful festive period, whatever they found themselves doing, and that you all have a wonderful 2018.

3rd November 2017

I’m very happy to announce my next album will be entitled Eclipsis and will be out in January on CD and cassette. The tracklist is as follows:

  1. The Vestal
  2. Skyless
  3. Food Resenting an Airbase
  4. Bluethroat Passage
  5. The Geometrician

The album concludes a loose trilogy of hardware based albums I’ve completed in the last two years, following Opaline and Seltrac. Where those albums were almost entirely just using my synths and FX boxes recorded to tape, Eclipsis is a bit more advanced, featuring sound collages and recorded digitally.

After completing Myosphere a couple of years ago, I found myself kind of stuck, having finally recorded the album I’d been wanting to make for 20 years. This resulted in a back-to-basics approach for these three albums, which have acted as a bit of a palette cleanser for me. The more complex nature of this new album kind of brings things full circle, back to the more soundscapey style once more.

The album was completed in late spring, and I’ve recently started work on ID7, focusing largely on using my laptop once more. I have some ideas in mind already for the theme and sound of the album. On the whole I’m hoping to let it come naturally rather than trying for something. I’ve done a lot of intentionally restricted albums in recent years – focusing on using certain equipment, samples, or sound palettes – and this definitely helped me work through differing periods of writers’ block and self-doubt, but I feel confident enough now to simply open up a DAW and see what comes out. The album will also include one track that’s been created using my MicroKorg XL, which you can hear below:

In other news, I’ve had a number of tracks included on compilations recently. A wonderful double tape set from Sunset Records included a new piece ‘Destination 1, Revision 3’, a charity tribute to The Caretaker organised by Nmesh included ‘Further back than I care to remember’, and the fourth volume of Dream Catalogue’s Chaos series included an alt mix of ‘Curtain Moon’ entitled ‘Affection Moon’.

I’m enjoying the gradual shift into a gorgeous autumn this year. With barely any rain in sight, it’s been cool and crisp autumn with lots of gorgeous pale light and richly coloured leaves. This time of year always feels like a return home for me, so I’ve been coping well recently. Taking Rosey for long walks in the country has been really uplifting. I’ve been listening to a lot of Idlewild, Snow Patrol, Frightened Rabbit, Deuter, FSOL and a bunch of lovely albums on ECM.

26th July 2017

I recently started a bit of work on some new material (for the first time in many months). It’s been quite nice using hardware only as it makes it very simple to do alternate, varied mixes: in this case starting out by doing a fairly dancey track, then just making a few changes and suddenly being able to whack out an ambient version. I have nine or ten pieces done (incl. variations) and reckon one or two could end up on whatever the next album turns out to be. You can check out one called Nais Metalmark below.


I’m still having to set up my gear every time I want to make something, which is an absolute pain, but hopefully going to be getting some shelves to put all my hi-fi stuff on soon which will enable me to turn my desk into a permanent studio space. This should help creatively, as it’ll simply be a case of switch on and go whenever I want to make something. So I’m looking forward to that. Hopefully I’ll be able to spend the rest of the summer and early autumn working on a bunch of tunes and maybe put together an album and an EP or two by the end of that for release next year. I have a potential title lined up. It’s been quite a while now since I had a properly new release to get excited about (last year’s Opaline, I suppose), bearing in mind both Seltrac and Myosphere both spent around 18 months waiting to be released.

Generally I’m forcing myself to really strip back my sound a bit. Every time I start a new tune I end up throwing in loads of tracks and muddying it up a bit (not only the mix – no outboard EQ yet – but also the focus of the piece), but whenever I’m listening to music I always make a mental note that I tend to lose the starkness and simplicity of it. So I’m trying to change my creative process to make something less cluttered, more minimal. There’s a lot of gear I still want to get which will help open things up to creating more ambient stuff again, so I suppose the stylistic sound for the moment maybe minimal lo-fi house/techno/electro with ambient touches. But we’ll see.

It’s been a weird summer so far. Either blazing hot sun or tipping it down with rain (neither of which I’m a particular fan). I’m just coming out of a period of particularly poor mental health – something that is often referred to autistic burnout – which has put a lot of personal progress on hold, but I’m definitely feeling better. Taking a bit of time off social media, particularly Twitter, which can be a madhouse when I need some headspace, is definitely helping in that regard. Trying to get back to leaving the house on a more regular basis, and maybe lose some weight too. Really trying to be positive moving forwards. Part of this has involved making peace with some elements of my back catalogue, so Obliquity, Periphery and Two Suns are back on my Bandcamp for good now.

Lately been listening to a lot Martin Newell – Cleaners from Venus and The Brotherhood of Lizards in particular – which has made me consider working on some new Curse of Kevin Carter stuff for the first time in ages. Also Patricia, both albums on Opal Tapes are excellent and I have the new one on its way in the post. And Global Communiction and Heavenly Music Corporation, because there’s always some ’90s ambient in there somewhere.

News:
Later this week comes the third Winter of the World album, Human Croquet. Joaquin and I have been working on this project on-and-off for a while now, and have two albums coming out this year. Human Croquet is the first, and will be released as a CDr on the wonderful Sea of Clouds label. 70+ minutes of sound collage, ambient drift, piano improvisation and even a touch of vaporwave. The other album is called Croxton Kerrial and will be out on Celldeath later in the year. That one’s a lot darker and more experimental.

On the subject of collabs, the Middlemarch remix album is making progress, with premasters delivered to Carpe Sonum (who will be releasing it in the new year), and two tracks previewed on the label’s latest sampler. Have a listen to Mick Chillage and Off Land giving ‘A Painter’s Eye’ and ‘Angels’ a once over here. There are a couple more collaborative projects currently in progress which are pretty exciting. I’ll have more proper news on those in the coming months. And there’s a ton of new/old stuff over on House of Broken Clocks. All can be grabbed for free as ever.

Current status of Ambifauna

The current situation with Ambifauna:

Around a month ago, the Psychonavigation Records website and Bandcamp went offline, leaving no direct link to be able to order any of their items.

I recently contacted Keith Downey, the label’s owner, to discuss this and, given that the label has supposedly closed down for good, try and get my rights back so I can maybe reissue the album and give it the promotion it deserved.

In response to this, Keith has ignored my emails and has now blocked me from messaging him on Facebook.

Keith and the label have come under a fair bit of criticism recently regarding non-payment of artists and various other issues (there’s some discussion on the label’s page on Discogs if you want examples), and although I have been affected by this I decided not to air these issues publicly through my International Debris pages, because I find these kinds of internal arguments unpleasant to discuss so openly.

However now I am left with no alternative. Downey has informed at least one artist that the label has closed and given him his rights back. With the closure of the label, the contract is cancelled, and now the continued sale of Ambifauna through outlets such as Amazon, iTunes and Spotify is illegal and unsanctioned by myself. I will not see payment from sales or streams through these sites, and sadly I can only take Downey’s blocking me as a sign that he plans to profit from these – and those of other artists on the label – as long as possible before somebody takes legal action and the whole label’s catalogue is taken down.

In short: please do not purchase or stream Ambifauna through any services other than my own Bandcamp – where I will be uploading it soon – as this digital distribution is now unsanctioned by myself and illegal.

I have started making plans to get the album reissued by another label, but these are currently on hold until either Downey responds to me, or the label’s catalogue goes offline by other means.

As Ambifauna is thematically tied to my recently released album Myosphere, this couldn’t have come at a worse time, but I will hopefully have a Bandcamp link for everyone soon.

Thank you for your patience and understanding

Ross / International Debris

23/05/17 – Myosphere out now

Well I’ll open this post by saying that Myosphere is finally available. It’s been in the works since August/September 2014, and I’m frankly bloody relieved to have it out. You can grab it from No Problema Tapes as a digital download, and there are 50 cassettes also available. I’m hugely proud of the album, and I hope you all enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it. Actually, a lot more, it was a fucking nightmare to make!

As I’ve previously mentioned, the main bunch of releases so far were all recorded fluidly, rather than in a linear album -> album process, so in many senses, Bathe in the Lights, Anxiety, Ambifauna, Seltrac and Myosphere are all different perspectives on the same material. There are links between the artwork on these releases: in this case, the cover of Myosphere features a fractured version of the Anxiety cover. More literally, Myosphere is a direct follow-up to Ambifauna. That album I wanted to feel like viewing a strange landscape from a distance, whereas this one is exploring the same place up close. It’s more claustrophobic and sinister in that sense, with fewer of the big vast chords that made up a lot of Ambifauna.

With that all done, I’m taking a break from ID for a bit while I get stuff together for my new mini-studio, at which point I’ll pick up the strands I began to explore on Opaline last year. Until then…

Ambifauna

I had a query about the current availability of Ambifauna, as the link on my Bandcamp was not working.
Frankly I have no idea what’s going on at Psychonavigation Records at the minute, but the Bandcamp page has gone offline and emails are bouncing back, so I’m left in the dark. The album is still available on Amazon, as well as iTunes and Spotify, so I’d suggest going there for the moment.

Viewed From Rosey’s Perspective

I recently had the chance to work with The Future Sound of London on this video for their new song ‘Viewed From Rosey’s Perspective’. The song is taken from the 3LP version of their new album Archived : Environmental : Views, and is named after my dog Rosey, who features in the video. 🙂

17th April 2017 – Seltrac available now

Seltrac is now available from Third Kind, and features thirteen tracks. Each of the songs was recorded direct to four-track using various bits of hardware, with post-production on my computer. The album was partially inspired by travelling on the DLR, and the photographs of the London Docklands area were taken by Jude Frankum. You can purchase the album from Third Kind as a cassette or digital download.

RIP Mika Vainio

RIP Mika Vainio, who has died at the tragically young age of 53.

Pan Sonic’s album A was one of the first truly experimental albums I owned, many steps beyond the ambient and electronica I had been listening to before. Its stark tones were eye opening, and I remained a fan ever since. To this day, A is my favourite of their works, although the four disc Kesto comes close.
I spent some time earlier this year revisiting their catalogue, and this played a huge role in the more stripped down, minimalist approach I am moving towards with my own music. This will become evident later in the year or early next year, whenever my next record comes along. As one half of the group, Vainio has left a huge impression on me, and of course countless others. Within minutes of the announcement of his death, my Twitter feed was full of people paying tribute, from all corners of the electronic music spectrum.

Rest in peace, Mika. The afterlife is a noisier place today.