the curse of kevin carter

13th February 2013

All of my past music that’s available has now been added to my main Bandcamp.  This basically brings together past work as Second Thought and The Curse of Kevin Carter under one banner, which is certainly not how I originally imagined things, but I’m now happy to just say ‘this is me’.  I have included a wealth of bonus material in here, too.  First off, Purlieu has been rounded off with a 30 minute collage collecting various related unreleased material of similar style, from the Purlieu, Leaf Pass and East of Evening sessions.  Since Every Hour is Too Late has been expanded to include a selection of synth pieces from the same sessions, and closes with ‘May Revisited’.  There are also bonus remixes and live takes included in the downloads of Vacuum Road Songs and Safernoc.  Finally, the lost Second Thought album Aeolian Landform is available in its original format, after a short appearance under my Obliquity monker a couple of years ago, in its rightful place amongst my other records.  This now gives the whole page a rather strange feel, collecting together ambient techno, modern classical, lo-fi acoustics and various other genres, but why should genres matter, really?

All of the albums (except East of Evening, of which there are still a few tape copies available) are available as name-your-price downloads, so there is potentially eleven hours of free music to grab there, although I am saving towards some new gear which I’ll be needing to work on my next album, so all donations are very gratefully received.  Enjoy!

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!

12th July 2011

I’ve finally got the Curse of Kevin Carter website sorted and online. The Curse of Kevin Carter is basically the final version of a band which started a very long time ago and mentioned on this blog way back in probably 2004. The initial line-up was that of myself, Thom and Ste, and we were going to be joined by Jo, Pete, Tom, Claire and Liam, but this never came to pass. We did record a few demos, a couple of which are still around. Eventually it whittled down to myself and Ste, and moved on from slightly jangly indie stuff to a kind of post-punk influenced sound, but that never really went anywhere; we went our separate ways, and he went on to play in the more shoegaze-inspired Eleanor Everything. Around the same time I began to put ideas together with Thom again. This took the punk sound further, being a jumbled mixture of melodic post hardcore (of the Yourcodenameis:Milo variety, not whiny 19 year old Thursday wannabes) and heavier sounds. At this point, both of us were writing lo-fi acoustic pop songs separate from the band. Eventually, the melodic side won out, and realising we were better at jangly indie stuff than shouty screamy angular nonsense, the sound unintentionally reverted back to something closely resembling that which we started with, and we began working on band arrangements of our solo songs. Cleverly, we chose this point to move to opposite ends of the country, and the project has hung in the air since. Needing a bass player, my beautiful girlfriend suggested maybe she could fill the role, what with her having a bass guitar and everything, and so became part of the collective. I put out the Second Thought sings The Curse of Kevin Carter EP last year, a halfway house containing the more experimental and electronic tracks I’d worked on, as an introduction to the project, and recently finished the first album, Almost a Leg. Although a solo project of mine, as I thought about expanding upon it, it seemed sensible to merge the band and the solo project, to form this rather bizarre occurance: The Curse of Kevin Carter. A tracklist for Almost a Leg is on the site linked above. We will be starting as an active band again within the next six months or so, and then exciting things will happen.

I spent a bit of today playing with some organ and rain sounds, and turning them into an incredibly long, beautiful ambient piece. It’s not done yet, I want to add some piano or guitar or something to it, but it’s turning out rather nicely. Not sure exactly what I’ll do with it yet, mind.

2nd November 2010

Well, the first Absence.Insolution split’s out, although sales aren’t going as well as I’d hoped. Maybe we mis-judged the artwork concept – Lucy and I came up with 19 sleeves based around things we were planning on throwing away, thus recycling rubbish into art. A nice idea, and hopefully something to catch the eye of potential buyers! Or maybe not. Ah well. We’ll see how that goes in time, anyway. Either way, it just leaves two more releases – the Esion split, and the second Absence.Insolution split, which I received the artwork for earlier in the week and is looking nice.

It’s funny, I was excited about all this at one point, and then concerned, and then relieved, but now kind of bored. I suppose this is what such a ridiculous stream of releases does to you. I do still check my download totals regularly, so I pay attention, but still. This year’s nearly over, and the year of experimentation with it. And for all the trouble it’s caused, I have come away from it having learned something. The experiments this year will go towards future releases. Treatments’ and Dungeness’ drones, Canal Seven’s collage work, 60 Degrees South’s synth improvs, Oncoming Storm’s Ableton experiments, The Curse of Kevin Carter’s songform, Small Black Box’s sound experiments – all of these ideas will re-appear on future Second Thought albums. Some of these records have been more well formed than others. Some simply sound like experiments, others might seem like complete records, but each one was an exercise; a new approach to creating music for me. Just rather than taking the best bits and making an album, I decided to put it all out, to open up and let anybody hear who wishes to hear. I could probably have saved them up and made a more ‘traditional’ Second Thought album, but that wouldn’t have felt right at this time. Instead, I’ll be picking the best ideas and using them as inspiration in the future. Some of these will seem very obvious, in time. Others, less so. But it’s been a lot of fun. And a little bit of stress.

I did some synths for a track I’m working on with Loose Link this afternoon, some nice sounds going down there, but it did bring to mind that, one way or another, I’m not in such a compositional, creative mood at the moment. I’ve rediscovered the joy of listening to music again, after several months of simply making it and going over my own work. I’m going to focus on going through old tapes, CDs and field recordings in the next few months, to try and get myself prepared for working on a new lot of material in the future. Not that that’ll be anytime soon, I’m taking a well-earned break. Got a Noisesurfer remix to work on this week and that’s it. Just going to work on organising and arranging sounds for a while without any need to actually write music. Which feels like quite a relief!

16th September 2010

Well, we’re only a month away from the next release, The Curse of Kevin Carter, and it’s time to reveal the beautiful artwork from Lucy Wade:

Well, that’s just a thumbnail, anyway.  Full size front and back cover will come with the release.  🙂

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed the new website design for secondthought.co.uk, which I worked on for a couple of days, hand coding in notepad.  First time I’ve done that.  It brought up a few annoying errors, but I got there eventually.  There are lots of banners for past, present and up-coming releases which you can see by clicking ‘new banner’.  Amongst them you’ll find a cover for something called Small Black Box, which will tentatively be coming out on a netlabel called Tavern Eightieth before the end of the year.  I’ll post more news on that soon.

The glut of releases continues to drop, hopefully, as I’ve begun sending off CDr demos for the first time since… er, pre-Vacuum Road Songs (nobody bothered picking me up for that one anyway).  It’s a strangely liberating feeling, knowing that people around the world will be listening to my music very soon.  So far I’ve been trying to get a few of the stranger, more avant garde and downright strange releases out.  Some of the sounds hark back to my days as recording as 2T, and I’m hoping to get some releases out on some lovely DIY CD-r and cassette labels in the coming months.

In my head, I separate my ‘main’ releases from ‘everything else’ – in this case the ‘main’ releases are the series of themed albums: so far Purlieu, Vacuum Road Songs and the ever-forthcoming Safernoc, plus the album containing more classical-influenced material I’m working on.  These I hope to continue to give wider releases for – CD, maybe some larger distribution.  Everything else exists partially to take part in the DIY label scene, from the netlabels – both new to me and those of my friends – and the CDr and cassette label scenes.  I’m looking forward to working with various people on promoting my music and their labels over the next couple of years.

Live rehearsals continue, as I’m confirmed for a slot at one of the Awakenings shows in Burton On Trent next year (more details to follow).  That will probably be centred around more synth-based material, highlighting my traditional ambient and Berlin School influences, but I’m really interested in doing more gigs as I’m otherwise practising a lot of improvisational stuff which has taken me in both the avant garde and rhythmic directions.  It’s a lot of fun and these rehearsals have provided some recordings of vastly altered tracks.

Anyway, that’s about all the ranting about my music anybody could possibly wish to read, so I bid you farewell for now.  Watch out for live and release news on its way very soon.  🙂

4th August 2010

4th August 2010

So, where do I stand as of August 2010? Well…

Those of you who thought ‘four releases in the last twelve months, that’ll be the last we hear of Second Thought for a while!’ have been distinctly wrong. I’ve been working on music solidly for a while now. Lots of ideas have been presenting themselves and I’ve been taking the project in all sorts of directions. There’s an album of pieces in the Canal Seven vein but more focussed, three in total, all suggesting a different place, called ‘Habitats 1-3’ (more are in the works), which I may have news on at some point. I’ve been working with synths a bit more for what may be a stylistic follow-up to 60° South, although this will be a long way off. I’ve been prodding the dark ambient beast again, and have taken the neo-classical hints I included on Safernoc and been expanding upon them once more, for a future album which is probably so far off I don’t want to think about it just now anyway. Safernoc itself, and an accompanying EP, will be out sooner or later through an online label with a physical release to follow perhaps.

There are also older tracks and collaborations and a hundred other things, but they can wait for the moment…

It’s all this time being unemployed, you see. It gives one time to create and create and create and create and the next thing one knows, a life’s work is completed in the space of a year.

ANYWAY

Most importantly for the moment, my next release!

Second Thought sings The Curse of Kevin Carter is a collection of eight haunted pop songs by Ross Baker. Fragile, lo-fi pieces, where acoustic guitar and pained vocals meet grainy synths and fragmented noise. Cover art by the wonderful Lucy Wade is on its way. The tracklist looks something like this:

01. Six By Nine
02. Green Cliff, Tyre City And Mulpton In Nowhere Land
03. Map Of The Owl
04. Tainted Face, Tainted Heart
05. What’s Wrong, Mr. Blobby?
06. Feed Yourself
07. Incompatibility
08. Oil Leg

It’s coming out on my long-term collaborator and friend Tim Dwyer’s imprint No-Source Netlabel in October. More news on that, and the other thousand releases, very soon.

11th January 2004

Was listening to the So Far So Good album, ‘Autumn’, today. Well, I still am. I might reissue it at some point. It just seems kind of… odd. The feelings in the songs are no longer painful, but are past, and I’m not sure if I want them listed as present .Maybe if I do another album, I’ll put Autumn back out then as ‘back catalogue’. The problem with putting written feelings and emotions into music is that, unlike moods and atmospheres, they date. Whilst I can look back at my old Second Thought material and cringe because of the production, the content can still be good and remade. These old songs have emotions and memories tied to them that I don’t think they’ll ever be rid of, which makes it all so much harder to keep listening…

My favourite tracks still are Lessons You’ll End Up Learning Despite the Best of Your Knowledge, England; Sydney 3PM and Wreathed, which are probably the strongest in terms ofperformance, production and songwriting. None hold too painful memories, either. Ah, who knows. I’m sure I’ll do something with it in the future.

My current mood has put me in a creative mood for once. I think I’m going to sit on it for a while, but I felt like writing something yesterday, for the first time in ages. I’m not sure what I’d do, but it’s an idea I might work on more. I’m trying to pace myself with the music, though. I only want to finish Water or Jazz and the next Second Thought album by the end of the year. More time spent on perfecting these rather than fucking around with loads of half-finished stuff will hopefully lead to something good. I don’t want a collection of sketches like Twenty-four again.

I’m thinking of doing a bit more photography for the new album. This time last year I was out and about all over the place taking shots for Purlieu. I’ve already done a few; Greg’s part of town is a wonderful housing estate next to an industrial estate. Some graffiti photos have been taken already. Not sure what else, but there’s a lot I can take, no doubt. It’s something to keep me occupied, and should hopefully lead to some inspiration.