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 February 2013

All of my past music that’s available has now been added to my main Bandcamp.  This basically brings together past work as Second Thought and The Curse of Kevin Carter under one banner, which is certainly not how I originally imagined things, but I’m now happy to just say ‘this is me’.  I have included a wealth of bonus material in here, too.  First off, Purlieu has been rounded off with a 30 minute collage collecting various related unreleased material of similar style, from the Purlieu, Leaf Pass and East of Evening sessions.  Since Every Hour is Too Late has been expanded to include a selection of synth pieces from the same sessions, and closes with ‘May Revisited’.  There are also bonus remixes and live takes included in the downloads of Vacuum Road Songs and Safernoc.  Finally, the lost Second Thought album Aeolian Landform is available in its original format, after a short appearance under my Obliquity monker a couple of years ago, in its rightful place amongst my other records.  This now gives the whole page a rather strange feel, collecting together ambient techno, modern classical, lo-fi acoustics and various other genres, but why should genres matter, really?

All of the albums (except East of Evening, of which there are still a few tape copies available) are available as name-your-price downloads, so there is potentially eleven hours of free music to grab there, although I am saving towards some new gear which I’ll be needing to work on my next album, so all donations are very gratefully received.  Enjoy!

12th December 2011

Last December I put out a free EP called Christmas, as a thank you to everyone who’d stuck with me through the overbearingly tedious series of releases put out in 2010. I wanted to make the ‘free Christmas download’ a regular thing, and this year I decided to release a compilation. Another Setting Sun is a collection of unreleased or otherwise impossible-to-find tracks dating back to my first computer recordings and forward to this year. It began as an archive collection, but encouraged by how well Leaf Pass came together, I built it up to be a fully collaged album at the beginning of the year. It is out today, fittingly on No-Source, the label run by Tim Dwyer, the person who’s been listening to my music longer than anybody else other than myself and my parents. The album ends with the muffled lyric ‘I’m finally happy’, and it’s a very fitting end. With Autumn tying up the 2010 excess that I was so unhappy with, I leave Second Thought behind with a discography to be proud of.

This will be my last journal entry as Second Thought. A project which began, in its own way, twelve years and four months ago, but feels like it began several lifetimes ago, is finally over. It’s been a very strange ride. In 1999 I was creating potential CD sleeves for mine and Dale’s techno tracks, yet when in late 2000 I finally made a CD to fit one of the sleeves, it was solo material. In 2003 I finished the album I’m most proud of; in 2009 I came out of a six year writer’s block with Vacuum Road Songs to show, and a new album brewing. During my absence, a whole new MP3 and CDr scene emerged, and sadly my response was to flood it with half-baked ideas; even two more albums I’m incredibly proud of couldn’t change the fact that I’d made the Second Thought name – one I never liked much to start with – redundant. And so it ends.

Second Thought will always remind me of Hinckley, of my parents’ front room where almost all of the music I’m proud of was recorded. Three pieces in particular stand out as the most important tracks I made. ‘Station’, in May or June 2002, was a massive leap forward, thanks to an important lesson in music production. My tracks before were largely laughably amateurish sounding bleepy computer pieces; suddenly, I was making music as high quality as CDs I bought (even on its re-release in 2011 on Leaf Pass, ‘Station’ received much praise). A few months later I wrote ‘Rooftops’, which had almost everybody who listened to it gushing: not only had I made music that impressed me, but I’d made music that impressed others. ‘Rooftops’ got the attetion of Joe at Project Aristotle, who then wanted to release Purlieu – suddenly I felt like my music was validated. When I recorded ‘Savernake’ in February 2009, I’d almost given up Second Thought for good, but gave it one more go. Somehow, I managed to record something much punchier and ‘professional’ sounding than ever before; not only that, but the track was great! ‘Savernake’ rescued Second Thought.

Those aren’t my favourite tracks, just the most important. If I had to pick my favourite tracks recorded as Second Thought, they would be ‘May’, ‘Aqueduct’, ‘Machine’, ‘Time’, ‘Gone Forever’ and my collaboration with Full-Source, ‘The Significant Other’. They might not be the most representitive pieces – barely any piano! – but as individual tracks they work marvellously. I can’t say any more about them.

There are a lot of people I’d like to thank, most of whom I’ve probably not thanked, or at least thanked enough, in the past. Chris Sisk, for the Fruityloops tutorial in 2002 that shaped my music; Joe Dobzynski, for the passion and belief in Purlieu that gave me the courage to release it on CD; Tim Dwyer for still listening after all these years, and the countless collaborative projects; Jack Anderton for listening as a fan as well as a friend; Lucy for supporting me when everything seemed wrong; and Brian Dougans, Gaz Cobain and Graham Hicks for things I cannot begin to put into words. Without knowing it, every one of you has stopped me from giving up at one point or another.

Thank you to Thom, Gregg, Muzz, Arron, Rufus, Themis, Liam, Pippa, John Sherwood, Andy B, Andy C, Dell, Matt and Ben, for listening, caring and making it all worthwhile. I hope you find something to enjoy in the music I put out in the future.

Most of all, I’d like to thank Dale Clarke. You’re almost certainly not reading, and we haven’t been in touch in years, but it was that afternoon in your room in August 1999 when you suggested making some music – seriously this time, rather than singing along to The Shadows and Chicane – that started everything. It might have fallen apart after a year, but the enthusiasm you brought out in the both of us inspired me to take my own music that extra step, buy a keyboard, get some software and start actually writing music. If that conversation had never happened, it would have taken me years to get past the stage of just recording some tapes in my room on my guitar, and I certainly wouldn’t be in the position I am today. So thank you.

A brief diversion and something I used to do and wanted to get back to doing, my top ten albums of 2011:

Deaf Centre – Owl Splinters
Jack Anderton – The Missing Couple
Jesse Conner – Hard-A-Port
Wire – Red Barked Trees
Thursday – No Devolucion
Underworld – Frankenstein Soundtrack
Roddy Woomble – The Impossible Song & Other Songs
The Streets – Computers and Blues
Full-Source – Farewell These Unknown Suns
Jack Anderton – Riparian Forest

Honourable mentions go to Off Land and Current 93.

There’s a whole new website with a tidied up discography, news on The Blackbirds’ Revenge and so on coming in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I’ve put up some details of my pre-Purlieu releases on the front page, for the few who may be interested, and for nostalgia’s sake. I hope everybody has a wonderful Christmas and New Year. For now, thank you so much for reading, and… goodbye.

5th November 2011

I’ve got label stuff sorted for The Blackbirds’ Revenge, which is good – coming soon to a cassette label near you (or probably not, unless you live in Finland). I was thinking about how different it will seem compared to my previous albums, but in many ways it shouldn’t come as too much of surprise. It depends how you perceive my previous music. Part of the shunning of Aeolian Landform, the 2010 releases and other stuff from my catalogue was due to it not seeming personal. While my first three albums might not seem personal, they weren’t massive widescreen soundtracks either. Purlieu was based very much on the Leicestershire countryside I was so familiar with; Vacuum Road Songs started with my fascination with city life and ended with my experience of it; Safernoc explored my interest and fascination with ghost stories, myths and legends. Otherwise, Since Every Hour is Too Late adopted a track-by-track emotional approach, and Leaf Pass was more gentle, rural and even acoustic in sound, with the presence of an actual song – ‘Anticipated Lies’ (admittedly muffled and placed in the background). The Blackbirds’ Revenge – and my music to come – will continue in the spirit of all of these albums, but particularly the elements of the last two albums that I highlighted there. The music will remain as personal (and inspired by my life and surroundings) as ever – maybe just in a slightly more obvious way.

It’s rather typical that as I’m rounding things up for Second Thought – just two months to go – the name is getting more attention than ever before. I’ve had several positive reviews for Safernoc, Since Every Hour is Too Late and Leaf Pass lately, and the Nearby Forest mix is now available to download from The New Worck. And another appearance on an FSOL Electric Brain Storm mix. After a long period of self-doubt, the last few months have seen such genuine interest and passion for my music that it’s really settled my mind.

In slightly less positive news, college didn’t work out too well, for a number of reasons that I shan’t go into here. So music is slightly higher on the agenda again, but I’m still on the playing guitar and coming up with little ideas front rather than taking it much further – once I get some more recording equipment and The Blackbirds’ Revenge is out, I can maybe make some progress. Next year probably.

7th September 2011

I was reading back over my music journal, right back to 2004 when it started, and I noticed a huge, dramatic difference: back then, I was posting mainly positive things about my music, recording progress, and thoughts about music I’d like to make, maybe; in the last year, I’ve done a lot of complaining about my own music, my approach to writing and so on. I’d like this to change, I’d like to be more positive about what I’m doing and the music I’m making. In fact, I’d like not to have things to find fault with. I want to be pleased with what I’ve made. I want to appreciate my own music for what it is, not what it should be or shouldn’t be. I think the Ross Baker name should give me some freedom, not only because it is, in itself, vague and non-descript – there’s no artist name to live up to, I shan’t have the trouble with the whole ‘Second Thought sound’ thing, but also because it takes me back to my pre-Second Thought days when I recorded tapes just as Ross Baker. Sometimes I’d do tapes which were designed to evoke a particular atmosphere or mood, sometimes I’d just make tapes of music I’d written.

I suppose my point is, I’ll be taking a different approach from next year. Whatever I record is fair game. I could end up with another Second Thought style soundscape album – Sturmazdale is much like that – or a shorter, more abstract mood piece like the twelve-tone serial collection and cityscape albums I’m working on (I’m expecting both to be around the 40 minute mark), or a collection of individual ideas which won’t paint a scene, but just act as pieces of music in their own right. I must remember that this is all fine (it won’t be a 2010 style ‘release any old crap’ situation, however, as I’m going to make sure I execute a lot more quality control than I have of late)! Similarly, I’m removing the idea of ‘no go’ areas and unbreakable rules. I can’t see myself returning to using VST instruments any time, but I’ve warmed to the idea of owning a hardware synth. It might not be ‘acoustic’, but who cares as long as it sounds good? I do want to get more instruments and do more musical performance, possibly even recording to tape, but I don’t want to give myself some bizarre sense of guilt for using a computer. I don’t want to feel like I’m doing things wrongly by writing music for a reason or in a manner that isn’t in some grand plan. I never used to do that until the last couple of years, and it’s very unhealthy. It stops music making me happy, and that’s the main reason I write in the first place. And this blog, there needs to be more about the music and less about my neuroses, because they’re unnecessary. In short: whatever music I make, for whatever reason, if it’s good, it’s good. I have ideas of what I want to do, but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to do other things too.

I’m glad that’s out of the way. Now I can continue the blog in a manner befitting my newfound positive, music-based perspective.

Leaf Pass has now become my most-downloaded record and almost certainly my most listened-to. Thank you to everybody who’s downloaded it! It may have become my second favourite of all my records, behind Purlieu, so I’m really happy that it’s proving so popular. Fingers crossed it’ll remain that way.

The cityscape album I think will be taking the uncharacteristically long title of ‘Where Do We Go When The Roads Have All Cracked?’, which I think sums up the feeling of ruin and loss I’m hoping to portray in it (oh the happiness and joy, as ever). I think it’s going to be mostly live and electronically treated melodica and piano with a tapestry of field recordings. My girlfriend describes the melodica as sounding like a character or narrator witnessing the scene, which is a nice way of hearing the album and one I think really fits the mood. I’m incredibly happy with how it’s coming along, anyway.

I bought a couple of (very) cheap wooden Indian style flutes in Canterbury on my birthday. It’s proving difficult to get a nice sound out of them, but I will continue to try! I’m sure I can use them at some point. I’m hoping to get a new acoustic guitar soon, and I want to collect my microphones and FX pedals from Hinckley as well as they’ll prove useful when playing instruments I think.

The twelve-tone serial composition collection has been given a title and a label! It will be called A Room and will be the first release on my Bullfinch Records label next year at some point. I’ll leave you to imagine how the title and music relate to each other for the moment.

13th August 2011

At relatively short notice, Leaf Pass is out today, which can be downloaded for free by clicking here, courtesy of Treetrunk Records. I recently described the album as ‘the best accident I’ve ever had’ – it began life as a couple of longform Canal Seven-style pieces on a collection called Habitats 1-3, but I was just never very happy with it so I scrapped the release. Then, for reasons unknown to me, I decided to merge it together and split it into 16 tracks a la a normal album, and it all came together perfectly into a record I’m really proud of. Some of the material on the album is new stuff, some is very old – pre-Purlieu, from the Twenty-Four demo disc, for those of you who still remember it – but it all sits together nicely. The presence of pre-Purlieu material, combined with the sunny rural sounding beginnings, moving on to a more sinister end section, came together to make the album a bit of a prequel to Purlieu really. It’s a bit of a diversion from the modern classical direction of the last couple of albums and what’s to come, and was released now as a way to tie things up with Second Thought. This is the last of the five major albums.

I always intended to do linking albums, although it was never meant to end this way. I had four albums planned: Purlieu and Vacuum Road Songs, then Dead Hymns, a dark ambient/industrial album which had the listener going through a sort of ‘personal hell’, followed by Crib Goch, a spiritual reawakening based around piano and string pieces that would end the series. Instead, the hell was replaced by myths and ghost stories of Safernoc, and I took things one step further by tying the last album up as a memory of how the journey began. That this managed to come out just as Second Thought was ending is a wonderful coincidence and basically makes me very happy.

Anyway, Leaf Pass is out now. A CDr version will be working its way to a few special people who’ve supported me and bought the other albums over the years. That’s the end of Second Thought, musically, the last new material to come out, the end of the story that some people have been following since 2002/2003 when I started work on material that made its way onto this album and Purlieu. It’s been quite a ride. I hope you enjoy the album!

23rd May 2011

It is with a mixture of sadness and relief that I have to announce the end of Second Thought at the end of 2011. This has been something I’ve wanted to say for a bit now, I was going to keep it quiet for longer but decided that it’s better to get it over and done with (also, I’m the least patient person ever, as anybody who knows me will tell you). There are several reasons for this, the first being I REALLY HATE THE NAME SECOND THOUGHT. I haven’t actually liked the name since around the time of Purlieu, but for one reason another, I kept it – largely to make a name for myself and so people remember me. However, after the last couple of years, the name doesn’t really mean anything anymore. A person coming to my music for the first time might imagine Second Thought as a dark ambient/drone project, or a modern classical one, or a harsh noise, or ambient, or dub techno, or even lo-fi indie project. The array of releases has put to rest any idea of an image or brand around the name, so it made me wonder why I would keep a name I don’t even like… Also, I do really love a big clear out and a chance to start again.

A few bits and bobs have changed recently, so it’s probably best to ignore my ‘no more music until next year’ promises, ha. I will be releasing one more full album as Second Thought, called Leaf Pass, which will be out in the autumn. It’s sort of a ‘return to Purlieu’ affair, containing some new material and a number of Purlieu era tracks which have been reworked, remixed and updated. I was planning on having it out in the future, but it works so nicely as a closing album as it ties up nicely with my first album, so I’ve decided to put it out this year instead.

At the end of the year there will be no more Second Thought and I will continue to work under my own name.

26th October 2010

The Noisesurfer split came out yesterday and has picked up a fair few downloads already. I hope everyone’s enjoying it – it can be downloaded here, if anyone’s not heard it yet. I’d say it’s probably my favourite electronic work of this autumn’s experimental series, some very sinister drones and harsh ambience. Noisesurfer have provided a series of really excellent fuzzy tracks for it too! They’re improving at an incredible rate, from some sketches and demos earlier this year towards making this really interesting dark, atmospheric music already. Impressive stuff.

Spent the weekend in Hinckley, which was pleasant, and got me considering my future prospects once again. I suppose being back really reminds me of the previous productive period of Second Thought, 2002, which produced a lot of sketches earlier on, plus the whole of Twenty-Four and half of Purlieu. As much as the quality of a lot of that material is lacking, I’m still very fond of it as it felt entirely honest, with ne’er a genre exercise in sight. I want to head back that way, towards the days when it wasn’t so easy to categorise my music into “drone”, “Berlin school”, “noise” and so on. Give it a bit of time! A walk to Fosse Meadows yesterday morning did a lot on the inspiration front, but it always seems to. All of the initial plans for Dead Hymns were conceived on a walk around there during Christmas 2004 (which is a rather strange inspiration, bizarrely, but still), the place just seems right for imagination to me. Some of what was Habitats is based around the place. But you won’t be hearing that for a year or so yet. What a tease.

My split with Esion was awaiting my re-arrival in Folkestone. I haven’t listened to it yet, but the tracklist is now in the discography and I’m putting some photos up tomorrow, once my camera battery’s charged. Nice DIY sleeve, limited to 33 copies. I’m incredibly happy to have a cassette release! It just seems so right for noise. So hopefully that’ll do well once it’s released. Should be out at some point in November apparently, once the label is officially up and operational once more. The Absence.Insolution Recycled split is out a week today, just leaving our ‘stereo split’ release to come out at some point when Indestructible Object are ready to go with it. Might not be until next year, annoyingly. Still, what to do?

Things are coming together nicely, anyway.

15th October 2010

In an attempt to slowly draw in the number of releases I have lined up once more, I’ve been revisiting old ideas and working out what to do with them. This is quite a fun practice, as in the past I’ve often finished a song or album, and left it at that, with the idea that each record is of its own moment – something that is regularly a fair point, but I’ve discovered it can be very enjoyable to rework stuff once I’ve given it some space.

To this end, the previously announced follow-up to Canal Seven will not be coming out in any recognisible form, and won’t be appearing in any form for quite some time now, to free up some space in the release schedule next year. After the two EPs and handful of splits that remain this year, its all go for Safernoc and, at the same time the free Syophonic EP from the same sessions, at the beginning of 2011. Then it’s time for a special release recorded for my performance at the Awakenings show in Burton-on-Trent, which has been confirmed as the first show of the year, on 5th February. I’ll be playing alongside Nick Robinson again, and the headliners are Endgame. Given that the events focus on the more traditional end of the EM spectrum, expect the show and its accompanying release to show considerable influence from space ambient and Berlin School electronica. More news on those soon!

Once Safernoc and the Awakenings album are out, I should have one release outstanding, which is an exciting collaborative effort I’ll explain about nearer the time. It’s something that’s been worked on for quite a while and should be excellent. And after that, it’s on to pastures new and a return to the standard album releases I’ve been talking about. As the very first entry to this blog said, the future’s bright, the future’s storange.

8th October 2010

Long-time fans of Second Thought will remember the 2T project which recorded between 2001 and 2003, the name of which still occasionally appears credited as artwork designer. Upon revisiting some of my old music, I renewed my interest in the harsher and more experimental ends of my music – noise, industrial, drone, harsh noise wall, breakcore and all the other ridiculous stuff 2T used to come out with. In a recording spree of a few weeks I came up with a startling amount of this material and am now faced with the rather worrying prospect of a billion different releases. Only one has come out so far – last week’s Torn Vision 3″ CDr.

Fortunately, a fair amount of it will be appearing on compilations over the coming months (more news on them as and when they’re released). I’ve also come together with a few artists to release some splits. Next week will see a CDr release on Jerky Oats of a three-way split between myself, Cementimental and Fist Taker. It’ll be limited to 30 copies, digipacked with more artwork by Lucy Wade, my beautiful girlfriend and co-conspirator in the creative world of Jerky Oats Records and Merganser. The album is 75 minutes of harsh noise wall and should be approached with caution and curiosity by anyone not familiar with this end of my music. I have another split on its way, with Absence.Insolution (who is releasing one of the aforementioned compilations), we’re just looking for a label for that, and third split with Noisesurfer due out as a netlabel release before the end of the year. Which leaves me two 20 minute records which I’m currently submitting to a few cassette labels. If they ain’t interested I’m heading outwards to some CDr labels, although I like the noise cassette scene so it would be sad not to have at least one of them released on cassette. These, coupled with The Curse of Kevin Carter’s song form, Dungeness’s dronescapes and the unmelodic textures of Small Black Box, mark a very experimental final quarter of 2010 for Second Thought.

The reason for the push on getting these out is I want a clear run in the new year. I don’t think they’ll all be out by January, but I really want to be able to categorise this period as the experimental period, when a lot of unusual sounds and ideas were put out at once. It’s like a scrapbook, lots of ideas and genre exercises and experiments, put out for free, or as limited editions. And I’m tired of seeing all this stuff lined up and not actually releasing it. It’ll clear my mind and inspiration to get it out of the way, because I feel like this era is over in my head and I hate holding on to stuff. 2010 has been a year of experimentation, with all sorts of new releases and directions for me. It’s been the re-emergence of Second Thought with a bang, and I’d like things to calm down a bit now.

The new year will see Safernoc released, and an accompanying EP of outtakes, Syophonic. Safernoc is the big statement, the proper follow-up to Vacuum Road Songs, after all these years. There are a couple more things due – some remixes, and follow-ups to Canal Seven and 60 Degrees South, but overall I want to let everything breathe. And I want to work towards a more streamlined future. Once the follow-up to Safernoc is out (yes, I’m that far behind on actually releasing stuff), I’m calling an end to side-projects and experiments, and putting everything out as ‘proper’ releases. This might mean two albums a year rather than one album and six experimental EPs, I don’t know. But it will make Second Thought feel more like Second Thought again. I kind of miss the days when I’d record a bunch of tracks, and as they went along they’d begin to make sense and an overall sound would become evident, and after a while, 12 or 13 tracks would fit together nicely and become an album. It felt very honest and I’m looking forward to returning to that mindset again.

Anyway, that’s a lot of ranting for what is effectively “expect a lot of weird unlistenable shit before Christmas”.