ross baker

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.

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!

28th December 2014

2014 in review, I: favourite music

My top 25 records of 2014…
01. The Future Sound of London – Environment Five
02. Bedroom – Shade & System
03. A Winged Victory for the Sullen – Atomos
04. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology
05. Off Land – Quinarian
06. Aphex Twin – Syro
07. Foxes – Glorious
08. Deaf Center – Recount
09. The Birthday Suit – A Hollow Hole of Riches
10. Origamibiro – Odham’s Standard
11. HOLOVR – Holo Earth
12. Pyramids of Space – Pyramids of Space
13. Caustic Window – Caustic Window LP
14. Off Land – Voyage/Home
15. Off Land – Accitiper/Coast
16. The Long Lights – Our Waking Hours
17. Roddy Woomble & Band – Live in the Inner Hebrides
18. Off Land – Osculation
19. Nmesh – Dream Sequins
20. Hakobune/Sim Kima – Split
21. RAGS – Belief in an Order of Meaning
22. The Original Flowering Earth – Hosshein
23. Glass Girl – What’s it All About?
24. Eno/Hyde – Someday World
25. Blackhill Transmitter – 2nd

Somehow ended up missing the new Zola Jesus, but I’ll catch up with that pretty quickly in the new year.

2014 in review, II: my music

It’s very strange to think that a year ago I’d only just released Terra Incognita – an album that I began almost a year before. It feels like a lifetime ago. Still, that was more of a side-project record (originally planned to be released under the name ‘Hello Egypt’ before I shied away from the idea at the eleventh hour), and I spent the first half of the year making progress from my 2012 records – stripping the acoustic sound right down for Two Suns and its related mini album Periphery, before building up with more electronics once more on cer. The first two of those were released on a couple of ambient labels I have great fondness for: Flaming Pines and Twice Removed. These gave me a rather nice amount of exposure – just in time for me to sabotage in it typical style by another style and name change.

There are several reasons for changing from Ross Baker to International Debris, but the main two are wanting to get out of the ruralist corner I’d painted myself into with my own name, and wanting to freely work with others. The second half of the year was spent recording ID material, of which about five hours’ worth has been completed. From this bulk have been assembled two albums: Bathe in the Lights of Distant Cities (due out in January on Metaphysical Circuits), and a second entitled Ambifauna, due later in the year – more news on that soon. Ambifauna in particular I am incredibly proud of, and much of this material is the best I have ever recorded. I have worked with six different musicians on these sessions, and will be working with many others in the next year on future material. The creative decisions I’ve been making over the past few months have given me a certain sense of freedom with my music, and I’m looking forward to exploring that further.

More news in 2015! Happy holidays 🙂

2nd June 2014

Since late 2011, with the release of my final Second Thought LP, Leaf Pass, I have been working with a sound I often refer to as ‘ruralism’ (as suggested by The Glimmer Room’s Andy Condon), which generally has a certain sense of warmth, a lot of nostalgia, often lo-fi production quality and frequent use of acoustic instrumentation. Over this time, I’ve produced three albums I’m really proud of (The Blackbirds’ Revenge, Photographic Reflection and East of Evening) along with a handful of other tracks I’m happy with, featured on various ephemeral releases such as the Revolution series.

However, as I was completing what was to be my fourth ruralist album, The Last Swifts of Summer, I began to feel that I had done as much with this sound as I could: I was largely repeating old ideas. Anybody who knows me (or indeed my music) will have an idea of how quickly I get bored of working with a certain sound, and change direction. This was the major reason behind the album’s demise.

With that in mind, you will notice a change of direction with my future releases*. My next album, Two Suns Were Visible in the Sky, picks up where East of Evening left off, but eschews most of that album’s pastoral sound, expanding instead on its more abstract moments (‘Ghost of Dreams Past’, ‘Beyond Evening’ etc.) Don’t worry, I’ve not suddenly started doing dubstep; if anything, Two Suns… is a transitional album, with many of the guitar parts and field recordings not so different to my previous few albums. But it will also be different. A little darker; a little less pretty; a little colder.

Since completing the album, I’ve been laying down a few ideas for my future direction, exploring different approaches. Recently I’ve begun fleshing out these ideas, and working directly on an album which will be released in early 2015. I can’t say too much about it yet – as I don’t know exactly how it’ll shape up myself – but expect something more synthetic; something that moves towards soundtracking an imaginary place, rather than capturing a real one. Having spent a few years looking to the past, I will now be focusing on the present, and possibly the future. I am very excited to be visiting new sonic worlds, and look forward to sharing them with you all. 🙂

In mind of this, you may notice some redecoration around my various online homes.

*the exception being the Clouds in the Shape of Clouds single on Plenty Wenlock, which finally gives that track a home, along with two unreleased pieces of ruralism.

25th May 2014

Two Suns Were Visible in the Sky has been mastered by offthesky’s Jason Corder, who has done as excellent job as you could expect from him. Kate at Flaming Pines is currently working on the artwork for that, so I’ll be able to bring that to you very soon. Still aiming for a June release there.

Currently finalising the tracklist for Periphery with Gavin at Twice Removed, I posted the artwork for that recently. That’s now looking to be out before the end of the year, as Twice Removed will sadly be closing its doors in November. That does mean 2014 will be focused largely on those two albums, though, which works well for me.

Collab-wise, there are new records from Middlemarch, Winter of the World, Sturmazdale, Merganser and Captain Busby in the works, plus new projects with Tim Dwyer (Off Land) and Justin Marc Lloyd (Pregnant Spore, Rainbow Bridge, etc. etc. etc.).  So I’m staying very busy.

And if that wasn’t enough, there are still singles on Knife in the Toaster and Plenty Wenlock due over the summer, and there are still some remixes to come out at some point…

9th February 2014

You know when you take on too much at once?  My current workload:

Releasing The Last Swifts of Summer and split with Wet Eyes on Bullfinch in a couple of months;

Waiting for release of A Time After Computers on Knife in the Toaster;

Looking for a label for a tape of out-of-print synth music;

Dubbing the first batch of Bullfinch tapes;

Starting promo to make sure people know that Bullfinch is coming;

Beginning to organise the second batch, including artwork;

Recording material for splits with Five Minutes Alone and EL Heath for release later in the year;

Sorting out label stuff for first album and EP by Middlemarch;

Sorting out label stuff for second Sturmazdale album;

Keeping up to date with progress from Dimitris and Craig about recording progress for upcoming Middlemarch and Sturmazdale albums respectively;

Finishing first Merganser release;

Working on some noise-based stuff with Joaquin for future Winter of the World releases;

Curating Terminal Radio Transmission 13 for broadcast in late March;

Curating the third Terminal Window album;

Writing stuff for Absent With Concept (completely behind with this, once again);

Working on the second Captain Busby record when I get chance to see Gregg;

Working on the first Duggan! album on the vague occasions Thom and I get our arses into gear;

Why do I do this to myself?  If my medication stops working anytime soon I’m going to have some sort of breakdown from this insanity.  Send me money/love/free tapes of nice music while I work through these one step at a time.

1st January 2014

2014 update, on two different matters.

1. Music of 2014.

This year will see the release of my new album The Last Swifts of Summer (or possibly Phose – but I think I’m going back to the swifts again), probably in late spring.  This will be part of the first batch of tapes on Bullfinch.  There’s no exact date yet – all depends on finances – but things look to be coming together nicely for that.  Alongside this will be a tape from The Glimmer Room’s Andrew Condon, which is really exciting and I cannot wait to release.  I’m very glad to be putting this out, as it means I’m really going to have to put the effort in giving it the promotion it deserves, which is a good way to start the label!  Fingers crossed there’ll be a release from Modulator ESP too, and possibly a split between Nmesh and Akkya.  So a broad range of styles, which is always good.  Hopefully more tapes again at the end of the year.  I’m looking forward to doing this as it’s giving me a specific project to work on, and hopefully tie in my other music with too.  I’m hoping to put out as many of my own projects on Bullfinch as possible in the future – notable exceptions being upcoming releases by Middlemarch and Sturmazdale, which are both being negotiated with other labels currently.

2. New year’s resolutions &c.   I have been quite critical of new year’s resolutions in the past, largely because people so often feel forced into committing to them, which usually ends up with them being broken very quickly.  So mine are vague, and will tie in with my moving to somewhere nice in the first half of January.  But I have decided that it seems a good time to get some of my life in order.  There are many things I know I can do, and I’d like to try doing them to make me feel better.  I really want to eat healthier, partially because I’m getting to the stage, for the first time in my adult life, that I’m struggling to fit into shirts; partially because I’m finding my often rather unhealthy diet is actually making me feel kind of shit these days, and only seems to exist out of habit.  I’d also like to cut down on dairy, particularly in unnecessary stuff like regularly eating ice cream and chocolate.  I’d also like to cut down on drinking as I’ve sort of stopped enjoying it, and it seems to lead to so many problems.  Not going tee total, but just being sensible with it.  Getting unnecessarily wasted seems actually quite unappealing these days.  I’d like to get good with my money.  I want to pay off some debts and save some cash, as well as put money towards things that are useful and constructive (putting out tapes, getting decent music gear) rather than lots of impulse buying of snacks and music.  I’d like to spend less time wasted inside at the computer and more outside in the real world, and enjoy nature and the countryside more. Finally, I’d like to come off anti-depressants this year, and hope I can return, in some way, to a normal state of mind.  Maybe return isn’t a good word, as I want to be moving forward, so moving towards a new sense of wellbeing.

These are all relatively obvious things that many people strive for at the start of each year, but they’re all things I’ve made progress with in the past, only to lose it as my life’s been tipped upside down once again.  Hopefully, this year should provide the right time for me to start getting on top of them.  It might be slow, but hopefully I’ll be there.

New music coming from Warpaint, Dementia and Hope Trails, and FSOL, and hoping for announcements from Idlewild and Max Richter amongst others.

I hope everybody has a wonderful year too.  🙂

19th December 2013

Another year down, then.  It’s been a very strange year for me, musically, kind of all over the place.  It started strongly with East of Evening, which I am incredibly proud of.  Much of the year was taken up by Terra Incognita, which went through many incarnations (the initial and final mixes sharing only a few minutes of music), which is now finally out!  In personal terms, a whole new load of crises appeared this year, which I’m finally overcoming, but things seem to have ended well, with a move to south east London planned for the start of January.  The place is absolutely lovely, with lots of natural open space a minute from the house, yet the convenience of having all that London has to offer – and for cheap rent!  Seem to have finally landed on my feet there.

This year has also been fantastic for music, with some surprisingly brilliant comeback albums from the likes of Bowie and Suede, and Autechre and Wire producing some of their best work to date.  My top 30 albums (as also posted on Absent With Concept):

01. Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe [Goodbye]
02. Karl Hyde – Edgeland [UnderworldLive]
03. Dementia and Hope Trails – Pure Magical Love [Rainbow Bridge]
04. Luke Howard – Sun, Cloud [self-released]
05. Jack Anderton – Vale [Sirona]
06. Wire – Change Becomes Us [Pink Flag]
07. Aaron Martin & Christoph Berg – Day Has Ended [Dronarivm]
08. Broken Chip – The Wonga Pigeon [Flaming Pines]
09. Suede – Bloodsports [Warner Bros.]
10. EMS : Piano – One [FSOLDigital]
11. Rad Wolf – Content [self-released]
12. Rat Rios – Broken Fold EP [self-released]
13. Pure Bathing Culture – Moon Tides [Memphis Industries]
14. Amalgamated – Trudge/Slap [((Cave)) Recordings]
15. Off Land – Tidewater Pulse [Psychonavigation]
16. Sabri Meddeb – Between Dawn and Dusk [self-released]
17. David Bowie – The Next Day [ISO]
18. Autechre – Exai [Warp]
19. Inappropriate King Live – Datboonbaat [Rainbow Bridge]
20. R. Sawyer – Attention [Bridgetown]
21. Piper Spray – Epigraph to the Bright Star Catalogue [Singapore Sling]
22. Marcus Fischer – The Crow [Flaming Pines]
23. The Rainbow Body – Magnetic Highway [Tranquility Tapes]
24. The Amorphous Androgynous – The Cartel [FSOLDigital]
25. Blackhill Transmitter – EP [FSOLDigital]
26. Modulator ESP – Inner Cosmos [Fort Evil Fruit]
27. Sand Sound Folly – Salient Moons 1973 [FSOLDigital]
28. The Glimmer Room – A Return to Cromley Hall [Silent Rookery]
29. Off Land – Overtide Recon [Stasis]
30. Dementia and Hope Trails – I Am Still Shaking Because of You [Sacred Phrases]

Next year I am hoping will finally be the resolution to several years’ personal issues, and also a consolidation to what I’ve been doing musically since late 2011.  The last two years have been a retreat from the madness of the end of Second Thought, and I feel as if I’ve moved far enough away to finally be back at that comfortable place again, making music purely for the love of it, and releasing a solid album every year, rather than several half-formed projects.

Bullfinch Art & Tapes should be finally making a much-delayed appearance at some point later in the year – I have a few tapes for that lined up, and hopefully those Finches art prints will go on sale eventually!  I’m also planning on getting myself a bit more music gear at last, some pedals and a synth, at least.  Something I can play about with.

Happy midwinter and New Year, westerners, and I hope you are all well.  🙂

7th November 2013

So, my split tape with Tranzmit is out on Arachnidiscs Recordings on December 16th.  My side, of course, is Terra Incognita, which is many months old now.  A few months down the line will be The Last Swifts of Summer, which will be my first proper album in almost a year once it comes out – currently looking like early spring on Crash Symbols tapes.  You can hear three pieces from that – Mutterfly, Windswept and Continuous, and The Ephemeral Beauty of Living Things – on my Soundcloud.

I’ve been doing some work on new stuff, but seem to be continually falling into the trap of focusing concepts, rather than simply making some quality tracks.  Found Autechre’s question & answer session on WATMM this last week quite inspiring, especially them talking about how they just love jamming tracks.  Something I’m often guilty of is not really enjoying the process of making music.  So I’ve been back on that, just playing around, seeing what I can come up with.  Thrown out a fair few interesting bits, everything from a dark ambient/noise piece you can hear on my Soundcloud, to some IDM-ish beats and a rather intense drone piece.  I can’t wait to find out where it’s all going over the course of the next few months.  Who knows what the next album will sound like.

Currently reading Skagboys by Irvine Welsh.  What a book.  After trudging through a heap of books which have been good but not amazing, this has been so refreshing.  The one thing that makes a book ‘unputdownable’ (ugh) for me is believable characters – feeling like I know these people.  Not enough books have that.  George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series is another great example, and almost anything by Kate Atkinson.  Anyway, I’m going to re-read Trainspotting and Porno after I’ve finished.

Recently been listening to a lot of Chvrches, Cocteau Twins, Zola Jesus, Warpaint, XTC and FSOL.  Think I’ve finally got to the point where I prefer female singers to male singers, particularly in ethereal sounding stuff.  Gaz’s Liz Fraser and Lisa Gerrard obsession seems to run throughout FSOL’s catalogue, even their early acid stuff seems to have ethereal female vocals caked all over it.  Good stuff.

18th October 2013

As it currently stands, we’re still hoping for the Babel/Ross Baker split to be out in November – that’s Terra Incognita on my side, which is somewhat old now – finished that a few months ago.  So that’ll be good to get out.  We’re just sorting out the artwork (or at least trying to).

I have tentatively begun work on my next album now.  Something I realised when looking back over older releases was a certain element of individuality.  Lately I’ve had a perspective of finding music that sounds like my music/creating stuff directly inspired by other music, yet this seems completely at odds with how I created my earlier work.  I actually remember when I was doing Purlieu, my attitude was literally “well if nobody else is going to make this album, I’m going to have to”.  So that’s something I’m returning to, I think, trying to create a sonic world which currently doesn’t exist.  It’s actually quite exciting to be starting on a fresh new project like this – particularly as my 2012/2013 output will all slot together as a series of related works with an overall sound/theme.  The WIP piece I’ve begun work on is quite different from the last few records – quite noisy and dark.  A welcome change of pace.

In other news, Dimitris and I have completed the Middlemarch album, which is to be titled Wolf Hall, and will be released on Time Released Sound in the new year.  Needless to say we’re very excited about this as we’re both big fans of the label.  We’re just finalising details about that right now.  This is probably the most beautiful selection of tracks I’ve ever worked on, and it’s been a real honour to work with both Dimitris and Colin at TRS in putting it together.

And there should be a couple of net-releases coming soon of debut records from two other collaborative projects: Merganser and Winter of the World.  More on those soon.

I’ve been collecting a nice number of LPs at the minute, and getting rid of my CD copies of said albums.  Over the past few years I’ve definitely become a convert to analogue over digital.  You should buy some of the CDs & tapes I’m selling on Discogs so I can buy more vinyl.