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

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.

7th April 2017

The next few weeks will see the release of both Myosphere and Seltrac. These will complete the first chapter of International Debris.

Both albums feature material that was started at the time I started Bathe in the Lights of Distant Cities, and pretty much everything released since then – Anxiety, Ambifauna, Thursday Morning Taylor Swift, Estuary, and my vaporwave material – has been part of the same recording sessions. There are many tracks which were initially intended for one album that appeared on a totally different one. Although all the records have individual themes and atmospheres, in my head they all occupy the same space. This level of overlap is totally unlike anything I’ve done before.

A couple of months after tidying up all these, I returned to work and pieced together TimewyrmMistral and Opaline, partially from unfinished ideas and partially from new material. In some ways these form a coda to those original sessions.

I’m incredibly satisfied with how all of this has come together. Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while will know that for some time I went through a period of unhappiness with my output, roughly between (but not including) Canal Seven and cer. Although there are some wonderful finished albums from this period, it’s also an era in which I spent as much time restructuring as I did actually recording. Different versions of albums appeared and disappeared from various Bandcamps more times than I can remember, and there’s still a fair amount of material I’ve effectively disowned from this time.

Although I can’t stay that the creative process has been easy since starting ID – for someone with mental health problems like myself, I spend as much time loathing what I do as I do loving it – I’m incredibly happy with the state of my music since then. I’ve been able to return to a time with no expectations, simply making music I want to make, and all of the releases – particularly the main five albums and the Anxiety EP – are among my favourite things I’ve done. In many ways, my material as Ross Baker was a healing process,  and ID finds me fully recovered again (which also explains why cer sounds like a cross between the two, transitional album as it was).

Once I make a full start on new material then I think chapter 2 of ID will be on the way. It will probably be different to the current (and shortly-to-be-released) batch of records, although I’m sure it’ll still sound like me regardless.

Up and at them!

1st April 2017

In 2015 I recorded a vaporwave record called Park City by Day. The original plan was to release it as an Intl. Debris album in early 2016 (I went so far as to sending masters and art to a tape label, but for various reasons that never happened). I ended up putting it on hold, wanting to focus on ‘main’ albums rather than side projects. A few tracks ended up here and there in the meantime – one on a compilation, one on the Estuary EP, a few on some anonymous downloads that were, for a short time, on House of Broken Clocks. I went to return to the album about a year ago, only to find I’d deleted the fucking thing. This happens more often than you’d think, and there are several tracks from the past that I no longer have copies of (one I excitingly managed to restore from an old HDD last year, to hear for the first time in about ten years – only to somehow accidentally delete my only copy a couple of months later).

A couple of months ago I accidentally stumbled across about 15GB of unreleased material that I thought I’d lost, including this album. I don’t have plans to work on new vaporwave material at any point – in fact I’m heading very much away from samples in general at the minute – but I thought I did a pretty good job on this album and that some people would like it, so I sent it over to my friend Angel who runs the wonderful Swamp Circle netlabel, and she put it out today, with some lovely artwork. You can grab it here for free, or donating to the label!

Seltrac is going to be my next release it seems, as the artwork is done and Nick at Third Kind is just waiting for the tapes to come in. I’d imagine that’ll be out this month at some point. No date for Myosphere just yet but some point this spring is likely. Both of these albums began life in September 2014, so I’m incredibly eager to actually get them released. I’ve recorded a few new tracks this year, and a couple of them are 99% certain to be on the next album – both quite melancholy synth pieces, one with live piano on it. I’ve also worked on a mixtape that’ll preview some old and new material which I’m hoping will be available soon. I really want to rejig my living space and make my gear a lot more accessible before moving forward though – reckon once I’ve done that I’ll be able to get a lot more material worked on. It’s been a while since I had a steady flow of output this end, and it’ll be nice to get back to working on material simply when I feel inspired.

I recently rediscovered how brilliant Archive are. They were one of my favourite bands for a few years, but I kind of lost touch with what they were doing. Been going through their more recent albums lately and there’s so much good material. Otherwise listening to a lot of good stuff on Opal Tapes and Tekres, and some beautiful solo material by Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny on ECM.

Hope everybody’s good.

15th February 2017

There’s always a journal entry in February…

So, finally a proper new website – internationaldebris.co.uk – and an update on what’s going on.

The next couple of months should finally see the release of my two new albums. Genderqueer Synth Diaries has had a last-minute name-change to Seltrac. That’ll be out on Third Kind Tapes. Just waiting on a friend to help with the artwork for that.

Secondly, Curtain Moon is now called Myosphere, and will be coming on No Problema, probably around a similar time. It’s going to be good to get these tapes out, as both were started in the second half of 2014, and finished last year (although Myosphere has had a bit more of a makeover since I last posted).

I recently had a couple of smaller scale releases. The first a collection of spacey tracks entitled Cataclysmic Variable Star. That name might be familiar to long-time listeners, as it was mooted as the title of an unreleased album from seven years ago. Some of the material from those sessions is on the tape, as well as reworked versions of a couple of bits that ended up compilations around that time. It’s been released under the name Intergalactic Debris, on Nebula Collection, a new label by Poe, who co-owns BLCR. Grab the tape or download here. Secondly, a split with Angel Marcloid’s MingSpring Memories project, each of us providing a side of moody vaporwave for Velvet Bazaar. That’s here.

And that really is me cleared out for the minute. The only unreleased material I now have is that which is going towards the next album. I have way more in the way of environmental interludes, samples, loops and sketches than actual tracks – two finished and two half-done – but it’s definitely on its way now. It’s been a long time since I started with a fresh new album concept, so it feels good to be getting to work on it. Currently there are elements of Seltrac and Leaf Pass in there, but who knows where it’ll be in a few months time?

There will also be new music from Middlemarch and Winter of the World this year. They’re both complete and working their way to friends for hopeful release. I’ll keep you informed with them as and when news comes along.

I didn’t really do a 2016 roundup, but I suppose that all provides the state of play as things stand. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Doctor Who novels and novelisations, and listening to Goldfrapp, B12, HKE, Carly Rae Jepsen, Gerald Finzi, Gustav Holst, and a bunch of excellent releases from ECM.

Hope everybody is well!