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.  🙂

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!

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.

16th February 2012 – Release updates

Well, finally there is some actual news! The Blackbirds’ Revenge will be out on Jozik in March, as part of a batch of four tapes. It will come in a rather lovely fabric sleeve (see the Jozik website for examples of this)! I should hopefully have some concrete news on an actual date (or rough date, at least) nearer the time.

There’s some further news on some collaborative pieces, too. The Off Land version of ‘May’, ‘May Second’, should be appearing on Tim’s Bandcamp page on… May 2nd, funnily enough. He’s done a wonderful job reworking the track, starting with some deconstructed versions of the main chord sequence, before heading into a really beautiful climax section and eventually fading away again. Elsewhere, my collaborative work with Craig of Loose Link is complete, and will bear the name ‘Rooms and Trees’, under the cunning alias of Sturmazdale. He’s taken a lot of my basic tracks and put them into a very different context, reflecting his current life in Melbourne. It’s not quite as dark as the original Sturmazdale, A Room and The Tree – although retains a fair bit of the sinister mood. I’m carting that off to a couple of labels who may be interested in it. Oh, and Jerky Oats closed, finally, a couple of weeks ago, with great releases from Thom and Gregg. Quite relieved not to have to go through the stress of releasing stuff there again.

It’s nice to finally have a release date for The Blackbirds’ Revenge, as I’ve recorded pretty much all I can in Maidstone with my current equipment. I need to do some mixing, mastering and a lot of listening to work out what I’m going to do with my current set of compositions. I reckon the next one will follow close behind Blackbird, but given that album’s ‘transitional’ status, that might not be such a big deal.

11th January 2012 – Recording update and website bugs fixed

I’ve given the site a quick revamp due to some errors people were having with the frameset. To tie in with this slight redesign, all of the Second Thought stuff has been moved to my Bandcamp site. You can even get your hands on a Safernoc CDr there as I’ve put the remaining few copies on sale.

I’ve recently started recording some of the ideas that I’ve been writing over the last few months. A lot of them seem to be based around guitar picking. Probably due to the fact that they’ve been written on my classical guitar, and strumming generally sounds shit on a classical. I could do with a steel string acoustic really, I think that would help mix things up. The 4-track has taken a bit of getting used to, but I’m teaching myself and getting there. Hopefully! I’m not making too many plans about releasing them, as I’ve lost interest in the music industry standard ‘follow-up album’ approach to recording – I quite like the way I used to make tapes of my music to give to friends, without worrying if they were ‘proper’ releases or not, so I’m hoping future releases will retain that casual nature. It certainly worked for Aphex Twin and Peter Broderick in the past!

A few months ago I sent my friend Craig – better known as Loose Link, who I’ve remixed in the past – a lot of the unreleased material from the modern classical stuff I put together last year, and he’s working on making an album out of the session files, which will be interesting to hear once it’s done. I’ll keep you updated on that as the year goes on.

Been listening to a fair bit of stuff lately, going through a bunch of old albums I’ve got back recently, a bit of nice nostalgia there. My favourite album of recent times has been my friend Thom’s fourth Jesse Conner album, Hard-A-Port. I’ve always liked his work, but this is the first album of his that has really bowled my over. There’s a folky tinge to a lot of it that I’m hoping he continues with in the future. It’s lo-fi in a subtle, natural sounding way, and the songwriting is astoundingly mature – in an intelligent, melodic way, rather than a boring one. It’s a free download on my old Jerky Oats label and I highly recommend giving it a listen!

That’s about all for now. Should hopefully have some details on The Blackbirds’ Revenge in my next update. You can always follow my Twitter for more recording updates.

8th September 2011

Been tidying up some ideas today. Often the last track completed from an album can seem rushed to me – perhaps running out of inspiration or patience. Luckily I have time on my hands to go back over stuff once I’ve given it some space. In this case, I’ve rearranged one piece from A Room, using the same tone rows but making it considerably more sparse and abstract sounding. Sounds less cheesy now (yes, I somehow managed to make a piece of cheesy twelve tone music).

I’ve begun considering ideas for the artwork for A Room – Sturmazdale’s artwork was done around the time of the album with a couple of suitable photographs – but it doesn’t seem to be something easily do-able at the moment. Perhaps I should start work on photography for Where Do We Go When The Roads Have All Cracked?, as it was a bridge near my current flat that inspired me to start work on it.