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.

5th August 2013

Over the past couple of weeks I have been recording all sorts of things with the four track.  I have three more tracks to complete from these sessions.  It’s quite stripped back so far, sort of Revolution 2 meets Photographic Reflection.  I’m attempting to make an album without any computer whatsoever.  This will be the first time since 1999.

27th June 2013

I’ve been working more on Terra Incognita, restructuring and reimagining the piece.  I’ve probably done more versions of this album than anything I’ve done before.  There’s about 90 minutes of material recorded, although I think I’ve finally pieced together the best 30 minutes into a nice piece.  Discussing release options with a couple of labels at the moment.  I’ve also worked on a couple of mixtapes to fit the theme, which will be aired later in the year.

I recently returned to the ‘Where Will We Go When the Roads Have All Cracked?’ record I was working on a few years ago, and finished it off to a standard it needed.  Going to start sorting out release details for that soon.  It will feature reworkings of previously released tracks ‘The Slow Decay of Concrete and Glass’ and ‘Oxygen, Tanks and Gas Masks’, and an album release, finally, of ‘Closed Loops of a Train’ – for those of you who’ve heard those, that will give an idea of the mood.  I’m describing it as anti-ruralism, although in its portrait of the bleak, hopelessness of urban decay, I suppose it comes around to the same sort of thinking as ruralism itself: a return to the tranquility of nature and the land as a refuge from the 21st century.

Anyway, after the anti-ruralism and exploring the psychedelic headspaces of Terra Incognita and its associated mixtapes, I feel comfortable returning to the ruralist world for future recordings.  I have no real plans at the moment, other than getting some gear and setting up a mini-studio (sick of my laptop).  I’ve been listening to Eno’s ‘Another Green World’ lately, and would love to do something with a similar pastoral feel.  So who knows!

19th May 2013

It’s interesting, as I look for the right label to release Terra Incognita, to discover just how many tape labels are slowing down their output at the moment, whilst there’s quite a surge of new ones starting up at the moment.

The difficult thing, I’m finding, is the ever-changing popularity of certain styles and approaches – Berlin School-type synth stuff is definitely becoming more sparse, and… am I noticing an increased interest in stuff with a techno influence these days?  Either way, more often than not, the labels who are the most open to really strange stuff (for the record, TI goes from synthpop to solo piano to spoken word + field recordings in less than ten minutes – no, I don’t make it easy for myself) are often those, like Hooker Vision, Chemical Tapes &c., who are more established and tend to pick artists who they already like.  Which is far enough, as that’s how I’ve done Second Thought / Jerky Oats / Bullfinch in the past.  I’ve never released a demo I’ve received.  As always, the best way in is getting a bit of a live following – sadly, I live in Maidstone.

Anyway, I’ve been in touch with a couple of labels who do seem pretty open and interesting, hopefully somebody will be able to appreciate where I’m coming from and enjoy the strangeness.

3rd April 2013

Like many of my best records – Safernoc and Photographic Reflection, for example – Eyebrook was recorded in a burst of inspiration over a short period of time, without concession to genre or worrying about promotion.  It contains elements of almost all the types of music I enjoy mixed into one glorious whole.

It’s my most electronic record since Aeolian Landform a couple of years ago, although there are acoustic guitars and piano present, and a lot of it retains the rural warmth of my last few records.  It’s loosely themed around lakes and reservoirs, inspired by the sounds of waterfowl and wading birds that go so nicely with synths and piano.  It was just a soundscape I really wanted to create, something that seems very visual to me.  It’s quite nice returning to that style of composing.

The album should be out on Bump Foot on 14th April.  I hope you enjoy it!

26th December 2012

Well, thankfully the world didn’t end, so I can end the year on a high note.  2012 has been a very important year for me, in many, many ways.  In musical terms, it has been a year of reinvention – a chance for me to start again, work out who I am and why I am doing what I’m doing.  The Revolution sessions at the start of the year were a proper ‘year zero’ thing, stripping right back to me, an acoustic guitar, a cheap keyboard and a 4-track, for the most part.  Since then I’ve released two records I’m very proud of – The Blackbirds’ Revenge and Photographic Reflection- which have built on the ambient acoustic sound I have found so rewarding to work with.  The second half of the year I have spent recording a huge bulk of material, but thankfully have found the quality control to only select ten tracks for album number 3, East of Evening, which will be out in January.  I’m expecting the tapes to arrive just after new year, and will start dubbing them then.  I’ve had some really positive reviews and lots of great feedback from these new records.

I really do feel a sense of peace and ease with my music now that hasn’t been present since recording Safernoc and Canal Seven back in 2009.  I have a few ideas about music going forward, and think it’ll take a lot longer with more attention to detail than the somewhat stripped-back nature of the recent releases, going to work on a big, lush sound.  There’s also a very experimental record with my friend Craig, the second album as Sturmazdale, which will be appearing at some point in the coming months, and tentative work has begun on the second Curse of Kevin Carter album.

I feel like I really know who I am and what I’m doing these days, and that makes me very happy.  Roll on 2013!

30th May 2012 – Recording

I have been recording again, for the first time in a few months. I’m putting down the first parts for my next album. I have nine tracks written in terms of chords and structure, many of which originate from around the same time as Revolution 2. I’m now facing the task of writing melodies, words and arrangements to fit them. I’m planning on doing something a little more adventurous – probably closer to The Blackbirds’ Revenge in scope, although with more instrumentation. We’ll see how that goes. In slightly more ambient news, I’ve also been working on some soundtrack work, which is going to be more instrumental. I’ll be able to share more on that at a later date.

I’ve also been working on the Jesse Conner collaborative material, which has come along nicely. I’ve added words for the song ‘Home’ – which I wrote the words for and sang – to the lyrics section. Mostly very acoustic, lo-fi stuff. Pretty much what you’d expect if you’re familiar with his music and my more recent stuff. And finally there’s some Merganser material coming together, which is nice. So, feeling quite productive again. And the website has new colours and an improved ‘about’ page!

I recently started writing for Musique Machine, an online music magazine, generally doing reviews of experimental stuff. Nice to get a selection of interesting new music heading my way on a regular basis! Other than that, I have recently been enjoying:

The Future Sound of London – Environments 4
Nicola Roberts – Cinderella’s Eyes
Deaf Center – Pale Ravine
Tangerine Dream – Hyperborea
Rod Jones – A Sentimental Education

17th May 2012 – The Blackbirds’ Revenge, May Second, new tracks and the future

More release news! It seems like forever since I finished it (it’s eight months since I finished recording it, to be fair), but The Blackbirds’ Revenge finally came out last month, on cassette from Jozik Records. In stark contrast, I’ve recently uploaded some newer recordings straight to my Soundcloud, rather than following a traditional release path, which is a very liberating feeling. The two lo-fi tracks – a very melancholy song and a new acoustic version of my first ever composition, ‘Countryside Melody’ – complete the ‘childhood nostalgia’ theme which has haunted my music for the past year; the third piece is a wonderful remix of ‘A Time Before Computers’ by cubus. Last but not least, Tim’s beautiful Off Land reworking of ‘May’, ‘May 2nd’, is now available from his Bandcamp.

So far, my new music has proved pretty popular, which is nice. I’ve had some really wonderful comments from people regarding the new tracks, and this absolutely wonderful review of The Blackbirds’ Revenge. ‘Clouds in the Shape of Clouds’ even made it onto the 50th release compilation from No-Source. The response on SoundCloud has been rather more subdued – unsurprisingly, really, given there are plenty of people there who were following Second Thought’s electronic direction and not me singing along with my guitar, so that’s all fair. The most important thing is that I’m really happy with what I’ve achieved so far. Revolution 1 & 2 and The Blackbirds’ Revenge are records I felt I had to make. I really felt like I’d gone wrong somewhere with Second Thought, and the direction of everything was making me very unhappy. I felt like things had become too dark and too electronic – I can really sympathise with Gaz Cobain’s post-Dead Cities breakdown now – and I had to make something more human again. Which led to me, a 4-track and an acoustic guitar. The reason I say this all now is that this feels like the end of the first chapter of my post-Second Thought music. The three releases that have come out this year have been the main part of the healing process – thankfully I really enjoy them too – and now I think I’m ready to continue with my journey. This is the first time since I started Safernoc that I’m not waiting to release something. I have nothing recorded for the next release. I have lots of ideas written, but none are complete and nothing has been commited to tape. It’s actually a very nice position to be in. I also feel a lot more comfortable with the idea of experimenting with electronics and effects and stuff now. I don’t see myself creating an electronic record any time soon, but I want to make something a teensy bit more ‘soundscapey’ again. But I have no urgency at the minute. I don’t reckon there’ll be anything else solo from me put out this year. But the most important thing is, in terms of how I see my music, I feel as happy now as I did around the time of recording Purlieu and Safernoc. So all is good.

Anyway, that’s enough self-indulgence. Things will be quiet for a few months now, although there is the Sturmazdale album – and a promotional mix alongside it – in the summer at some point; and I’ll keep everybody updated with any recording progress as and when it happens. And there’s always Twitter to keep you updated on any interesting musical matters in the meantime.

20th March 2012 – Releases!

I am very happy to announce that Revolution 2 is now available to download. You can grab the collection for free from my Bandcamp page. I am also doing handmade CDrs for anybody who wants them (the CDr comes with liner notes and a unique photograph – email me if you’d like one for the cost of shipping, I’m up for trades too – rossbakeruk [at] gmail [dot] com). It’s nice to put out a bunch of tracks I’ve worked on without the ceremony of a ‘proper’ album. ‘Clouds in the Shape of Clouds’ from that should be appearing on a 50th release compilation on Tim Dwyer’s No-Source Netlabel soon too.

The only two tracks from my 2011 ‘electronic classical’ sessions that will appear in their original form are now available as part of Terminal Window 2, the second FSOLBoard album, put together by my Sturmazdale partner Craig. That’s also a free download from Bandcamp, and contains a wealth of excellent material – the tracks from Nmesh, Akkya and cubus are particular highlights. The record also contains the first material from Sturmazdale, in the form of an exclusive track entitled ‘Caves’. Speaking of Sturmazdale, there’s now a Soundcloud page boasting a four minute piece from Rooms and Trees, plus extracts from the entire record. That should be coming out on a Ukranian label, Turbinicarpus, later in the year in a nice handmade sleeve.

I recently got a new, very cheap MP3 player, which I was happy enough to discover has a record function on. On a trip to Hinckley I used it to record some improvisations I had worked on whilst there. It has a wonderful warm, fuzzy quality and, bizarrely for digital, a sort of wobbly sound with the pitch at times which sounds like a tape sticking, which give it a lovely lo-fi quality. I’ve also used it to record some words which I couldn’t write satisfactory music for, and an acoustic version of ‘Countryside Melody’, my first ever composition. The pieces have all been added to the new tracks folder, but I don’t really have any release plans at the moment. I considered labelling them ‘Revolution 3’, but I think for the moment I’m just going to record and see what comes together over the course of the year. I think 2 is such a great set of compositions that I want to retain that quality control. I also have my delay pedal with me now so am going to spend some time experimenting and seeing what happens.

9th March 2012 – Revolution 2

I’ve written, lately, about my increasing disinterest in ‘albums’, and about wanting a more spontaneous feel to come from my music. With this in mind, I am happy to announce the forthcoming release of Revolution 2! I chose the name in reference to the lo-fi spontaneity of the first rather than a musical similarity, along with a nod to the fact it is similar in construct to the Mix Tapes series I recorded back in the 1990s. It’s a collection of lo-fi pieces and sketches: an ‘anything goes’ scrapbook of ideas, long and short, beautiful and silly, melodic and experimental. You can read more about that in the discography. It will be out very soon, as the first release on Bullfinch Records, in a handmade sleeve with individual photograph. The sleeve design I’m very happy with, and involves very little cutting! It’ll also be available to download. I will be continuing the Revolution series later in the year, and whenever music comes together without an album theme. To preview that direction, and the first track from it – “Wind in the Poplars” – The New Worck have put out a new mixtape of mine entitled Sunday, which I put together as music that makes me think of my favourite day of the week. It’s a feeling I’ve tried to capture on several of my records, all of which are represented in the mix, along with complementary music. Click for more info and download!

I recently uploaded all of my Obliquity material to the Obliquity Bandcamp page, which can now be downloaded for free by anybody interested in that project! Otherwise I’m just looking for an outlet for the Sturmazdale record currently, and beginning work on some more collaborative music, with my friend Thom (or Jesse Conner, depending if you’re a Jerky Oats fan or not). My most listened to album lately is Stratosfear by Tangerine Dream. I love the way they experimented with the sequencer-based approach rather than just remaking Rubycon time and time again.