16th April 2018

I’ve always been drawn to the chronology of things, being able to look back over periods of time and identify the evolution of an idea, a sound, a place. For a while now I’ve felt like I’ve been coming to the end of a particular era of my music, and have been tying things up in a faintly subconscious way. Arachnidiscs have just announced pre-orders for my new CD Exteriors, which sold out its limited run fairly quickly and has gone onto a second run already. That’s a compilation of pieces that never quite found a home, an album I’d wanted to make for ages portraying a normal everyday town situation, rather than the rural / exotic / surreal soundscapes I normally end up making. There are some very old tracks on it, so in some way it’s of a kin with Leaf Pass, but overall I’m really happy to have finally made this little record that’s been eluding me for such a long time now. You can pick that up from the Arachnidiscs Bandcamp.

Otherwise I’m now just sorting out label stuff for Holosphere, the final piece of the Sphere trilogy of that started with Ambisphere and Myosphere. It’s not too dissimilar in mood, although is the most rhythm-based of the three. The trilogy is born of my love of ’90s ambient, particularly the heavily sample-based end of it a la FSOL and The Orb. Sometime down the line once I have the rights to Ambisphere back I’ll be doing a nice 3CD box of those. In the meantime, Myosphere is down to the last four tapes on No Problema, so this is probably your last chance to grab that.

Holosphere runs a little like this:
01. Ladybird Spider
02. Verdant Sphinx
03. Blades of Grass
04. Baby Universe
05. Cromagnon
06. The Mauve Raven
07. Pargeons
08. Distance Collapse
09. Spacemoth
10. Little Leaf
11. Retrofire

To coincide with this, I’m also going to be reissuing my entire back catalogue on CDr. I had had plans to work on some nice deluxe 2CD reissues, but the time and money involved would mean the whole campaign would drag out over a few years, and frankly it’s not so healthy to be putting all that much effort into the past when I could be putting it into the present. So instead I’m going to make all of my out-of-print releases available on CDr again. In all applicable cases, these will be the same issues as were on sale on my Bandcamp for a limited time a couple of years back, only with slightly updated artwork (all will be credited to International Debris). There are also several which  have not received a CD or any physical release before, and some of these will be expanded editions. I’m hoping to have those ready by the end of May.

After that there’ll be a bit of a break while I start to work out how to translate all the ideas in my head into new sounds.

I’ve been helping out restart the Terminal project after a couple of years of silence. Season 3 of Terminal Radio is coming later this year, and there are some very big names involved. I’ve been working on mixes for that so I’ll be popping up and hopefully some artists I’ve invited along will be too. Once that’s settled in we’ll be looking at where to take Terminal as a collective and label, hopefully with physical releases and art editions somewhere down the line…

And while I’ve not been doing all that, I’ve been keeping myself busy working on my FSOL wiki.

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.

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.

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…

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!

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.

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.