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 🙂

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.

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.