journal

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…

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.

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!

13th September 2016

I find myself endlessly fascinated with musicians – and music – that I don’t like. In fact I often find myself more interested in them than in music I do like. While a lot of Wikipedia users will end up down some strange wormhole after continually opening new tabs that piqued their interest, I use it in a much more focused manner: I find a musical artist who I’m familiar with, and then read absolutely everything about them. I go through their discography chronologically. But more often than not, it’s an artist I’m not interested in, or even dislike.

Perhaps because I don’t have much knowledge about them, so they seem far more unusual and fascinating. After a while, the type of artists I’m familiar with become potentially predictable. But then I suddenly find myself thinking: “I wonder what the full discography of Yes is like.” I’ve read the Wikipedia entry for every Yes album. I might do a Yes YouTube session one day (I’ve listened to a huge slab of terrible ‘90s and ‘00s Simple Minds material on YouTube on more than one occasion, just from a fascination as to why this music was even made).

I once read about Limp Bizkit on Wikipedia. Every album. I really enjoyed reading about it. I never went through a nu-metal phase as a teen so I’ve never gained any pleasure from their music.

This probably ties in with why my own music can be hard to categorise. My record collection is surprisingly light on related artists. I have an absurdly large number of Tangerine Dream albums and a handful of Jarre ones, which is probably why I don’t own any Klaus Schulze, Ashra, or indeed any of the other Kosmiche/new age artists of the time. I don’t like getting an album that sounds too much like stuff I already own. Whenever I get obsessively into a sub-genre or a movement/scene, I end up selling two thirds of the albums I’ve bought six months down the line. I like every album I listen to be a completely unique experience, and if I own other albums that are very similar, it takes away from that. I’m the same when it comes to releasing albums: I hate putting out a record that’s very similar to a previous one. There’s no point.

The main thing I seek when I’m listening out for new music is: does this sound new to me (or: is this a really fucking good pop song?, but that’s a story for another day). I’m fascinated by music that seems new and different to me. Which is probably why I like reading about music I don’t like. There’s loads more to take in and learn, stuff about music and scenes and inspirations that I’m not already over-familiar with.

It doesn’t mean I end up liking the music any more, of course. But I feel like I’ve learned something and experienced something new.

6th September 2016

It was my 32nd birthday yesterday. Not a significant age, although in this digital world we live I suppose 32 is a more notable number than it once was. And by some coincidence, my online presence will be changing somewhat in the near future. More news on that soon!

In terms of releases, Curtain Moon will be finally getting its release, on No Problema Tapes, at the end of the year. The album has been renamed Myosphere. I’m super happy to be on No Problema, who are one of my favourite labels operating at the moment.

Before that will be a newly recorded work entitled Opaline, which will be out on 10th September on BLCR (the label who put out the reworked version of Bathe in the Lights of Distant Cities earlier in the year). This is an album of longform dream acid pieces. There may be a physical version of that coming at some point, but it’s just a digital release for the moment.

And Genderqueer Synth Diaries will be coming along at some point this year at last, as the artwork is now entering its final stages.

This will clear the backlog of stuff – typically for me it’s been 14 months since my last proper album and now there are three coming along all at once (there’s a bus analogy here somewhere). It’s been a relatively quiet year for me in terms of recording – Opaline was done over the space of a week, and those other two were completed last year – but I do have a few things down as starting points for my next full length. I’ve spent a few months playing with ideas but also getting involved in some online stuff, and recently reassessing my past. I’ve reached a point where I feel happier with the last few years of my work than I have ever done, and I feel very positive going forward to my next album. I have the same sense of focus that I haven’t really had for a very long time. I’d imagine the next album will unfold over a long period of time, but hopefully it’s something that’ll be out next year.

I’ve recently been listening to the new album from David Tibet and Youth as Hypnopazuzu which is excellent, and the last School of Seven Bells album. Also a wonderful tape on the Tekres label by Somnus called Sleep, which comes highly recommended.

1st June 2016

So there are a few completed things lined up for release. Curtain Moon, the long-awaited follow up to Ambifauna, will be out on Bedlam Digital in July. That album is a fairly dense mix of ambient techno, vaporwave and new age stuff that is the culmination of everything I’ve been doing for the last couple of years. It’s the album I’ve wanted to make for ages and I’m incredibly proud of it. That’s just a digital release at the minute, although I’m hoping to arrange a physical version for some time later in the year.

Around the same time, there’ll be a collection of pieces I made using hardware, recorded to 4-track tape, called Genderqueer Synth Diaries. That’ll be coming out as a tape on Third Kind Records, just waiting on a release date confirmation for that.

There’s also new music from Winter of the World and Middlemarch due this year at some point.

From now on I’m trying to focus on one project at a time as much as possible. The next thing I’ll be working on is a collaboration with my Five Minutes Alone (aka my Middlemarch bandmate Dimitris) which I’m really excited to get started. And then later in the year I’ll start work on new International Debris material.

31st December 2015

2015, then. I won’t deny it’s been a difficult year. After a relatively good 2014 this year’s been rocky. I ended up in hospital with my mental health issues again. I ended up moving back in with my parents again. On the other hand, I’ve learned a lot about myself and am so much more confident going forward with my life, about who I am and what I want. I am more aware than ever of my weaknesses, what aspects of my life trigger off anxiety, and things that make my OCD flare up; equally I feel more capable of managing these things moving forward. I am hoping in 2016 I’ll be able to redress the balance in lifestyle and be able to start functioning better socially.

Musically it’s been a year of some real highs and proper lows. International Debris started properly at the start of the year, and since then I’ve put out a couple of full-length albums, including Ambifauna, one of my strongest records to date. That came out on Psychonavigation, probably my most high profile release, although one which received disappointingly little coverage or response. The first half of the year also saw the release of probably my most personal release to date, the Anxiety EP. More recently I’ve put out a number of vaporwave releases which have been very well received. I was also very proud to put out a tape on one of my favourite labels, ((Cave)) Recordings, with the second Winter of the World album (my collab with Noisesurfer​). I curated five episodes of Terminal​ Radio, and since then have been running a fortnightly show called Dream Machine, both on the brilliant Future Music FM​.

On the downside, I’ve had more doubts about my own music this year than any time in the past, and have seriously considered giving up all together. I recently tied together various odds and ends into an album called Remains (to be released next year on Aloe City Records​), and I am going to be making a fresh start in the new year, spending more time really getting to grips with the hardware I’ve acquired over the past couple of years and really learning how to use it rather than pissing around and using the bits that work. There are two other albums coming in 2016, ParkCity by Day on Beer Wizard​ in Jan/Feb, and Curtain Moon later in the year on a label still to be announced. There should also be a collection of lo-fi synth jams called Genderqueer Synth Diaries, to come out on the lovely Third Kind Records​ at some point.

Most of my best moments this year have involved Lucy and Rosey. Without them I wouldn’t have got through half of what I got through. They are both beautiful and wonderful.

Here’s to 2016. Happy new year to you all. 🙂

8th November 2015

Thought I’d do a diary entry as it’s been a few months. It’s a rather wet and windy November afternoon and I’m looking out onto the same street I was looking out at when I recorded Purlieu, Vacuum Road Songs, Canal Seven and the bulk of Leaf Pass. This all ties in with my completing an album that in many ways marks a return to the album format I was working with back in those days; it’s almost a return to the Second Thought modus operandi. After diving headfirst into folky acoustic music four years ago, I’ve been making small steps back towards this direction. Following on from this July’s Ambifauna – which had the amorphous soundscape of old but still retained the 45 minute album format – my new record reaches out over nearly 75 minutes.

The album took eleven months to put together, and has been through more incarnations than I can actually remember (titled Street Gardine, Hypogeum, Chrysalism, among others). At one point it was an airy, field recording-heavy record (most of which turned up on the Anxiety EP); it’s been through various directions since then – at one point almost entirely beatless ambience, at another quite rhythmic and lo-fi – and only one track remains from the original version of the album, which is pretty heavy going even for me. For quite a long time I didn’t think it was ever going to be finished and this was the cause of a higher number of “I’m never making music again” moments than normal.

And then something changed. I started really getting into vaporwave. Interestingly, I’m not the only person who’s said they’ve found vaporwave has rekindled their love for music and/or music making. Notably HKE wrote about it on his blog. Anyway, I started playing around with making my own vaporwave stuff and eventually began to put some ambient and new age-tinged tracks together, and suddenly I realised these pieces were the perfect fit for the album I’d been working on for months. Over a few weeks I put together half an album and weaved it in with a handful of older tracks and out came what I’d like to think is one of my strongest albums in a very long time. It’s called When I Look at the Sky I Know it is Different and contains thirteen tracks. All being well it’ll be out on a really good label in the new year.

Alongside that there will be three EPs which are more traditionally vaporwave sounding, either earlier experiments with the sound, or tracks that closed out the recent sessions after the album was complete. What I really like about vaporwave is the variety and the community. Unlike several other music scenes I’ve found online, people are really keen to get involved, chat, share music and collaborate. There’s little in the way of elitism or snobbishness. And whilst a lot of people have the image of it being nothing more than ‘80s pop songs slowed down and looped, the name refers to such a huge range of stuff, from the dreamy ambient of t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 to the dubstep-influenced HKE, the groove of various vaportrap artists, the almost Daft Punk sounding Saint Pepsi, the fucked up mixtapes of Pursuing Paradise etc. etc. etc. The great thing is that people are into all of this. There’s none of the ridiculous box ticking niche nonsense you often find with other styles – so many approaches of ambient, yet each seems to have its own set of labels and fanbases. For someone like myself who struggles to sound the same over the course of a track let alone an album, it’s refreshing to find a place so welcoming.

Anyway, I have a refreshed sense of creativity that I’ve almost accidentally stumbled across after years of not being quite sure where I was heading. You can hear some samples of my new pieces on my Soundcloud. I’m happy to be properly moving forward again.

Lately I’ve been listening to a fair bit of ‘60s psychedelia, particularly The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle, and discovering various obscurities through YouTube. Nmesh and t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者’s new split on Dream Catalogue is fantastic, and I finally have a copy of the second 2814 album on tape, so that’s been on the player quite a bit. And the new Chvrches.

Since Second Thought ended I’ve been fairly quiet on the updates front, choosing to just pop up with the occasional bit of news every now and then. This entry has been a bit bulky but I’ll hopefully be writing less, more regularly, in the coming months.