29th December 2017

It’s the end of the year and recollection time. It’s been an interesting year for me, musically, and one very much of two halves. The first half of the year was incredibly busy both behind the scenes and publicly. Both Myosphere and Seltrac got incredibly overdue releases, to great response and sales, whilst a large amount of music was put together with little success of actually completing an album. This brought a mixture of satisfaction and frustration, which is a blend I’ve become incredibly familiar with over the last few years.

Since then, I’ve been making gradual changes in my own personal approach to music, and have felt a lot happier because of them. I’m taking future projects back to a much more personal level, after a few years of being more overtly active online and such. Frankly, most of the stuff I’m proudest of has sounded the least like music I’ve been listening to during its creation, and although it doesn’t always help in terms of self-promotion, I feel a lot happier existing in my own little bubble rather than as part of a music scene in general.

The first music born out of this perspective will form an album called Peregrination which I’m hoping will be released at some point in the next 12 months. Aspects of it require it to not be a cassette release, so I’ll be branching out towards labels new to me and ones I’ve not worked with for some time to get a release. Before that, there will be a few more releases next year: Eclipsis, a collection of pieces from the difficult early 2017 sessions I mentioned above, to be released on Aurawire in Jan/Feb; Ambisphere, a remastered & improved version of Ambifauna on a label who will actually give me money and respect my wishes, to be released on Asura Revolver around the same time; the fourth Winter of the World album, Croxton Kerrial, will be released on Celldeath; and The Mirror and the Light, the very long overdue Middlemarch remix album, which will come out as a CD on Carpe Sonum later in the year. These are all older works, but ones it’ll be nice to have out there.

In the meantime, I’m continuing to work on new music. For a while I think I was quite self-conscious about having an identifiable sound, but I’ve rediscovered the love of each work sounding different to those around it. It’s an approach I took early on (I once naively dreamed of getting ‘signed’ to a label to release Vacuum Road Songs, only to follow it up with the industrial-themed Dead Hymns, and wondering what fan response would be), and one I’ve realised works best for me. I recently re-designated all of my Bandcamp albums as International Debris ones, blurring the lines between Second Thought, Ross Baker and ID, and added a couple of unfairly ignored works in there (I very briefly considered returning to being Second Thought again, but thought fuck it, let’s continue to move forward). I feel more confident in my body of work in general than I have in some time, and I have some idea of how to move forward again, after the creative crisis I hit by reaching all my initial musical goals on Myosphere.

Personally, it’s been a year of ups and downs, which seems to be the norm these days. On the whole, I think I’ve come out of 2017 feeling a lot more positive and confident as a person than I went in, which, given everything that’s happened in the world, I feel is something of an achievement. My tinnitus is still here, I still have OCD attacks and I’m still stuck at my parents’ house without a clear path forward. But I have much more hope that I can get on top of things in the not-too-distant future than I have done in a very long time. I’ve realised it’s counter-productive trying to feel like I’m ‘picking up where I left off’ (a concept I’ve been very fond of in the past), but I feel like my realistic life goals are closer to those I had in 2009/2010 than they have been since that time.

I’ve listened to a fair bit of new music this year, although on the whole I’d say less than the previous few. I’ve felt it necessary to cut down my new musical intake for some time now, although doing so is easier said than done. On the whole, I find I listen to music a few times only to pop it into my collection only to be forgotten more often than every these days, and I think that’s easier dealt with by simply focusing on a smaller number of albums in the future. Quantity over quality. I’m still enjoying a lot of poppy stuff, but for the most part the only other music that fits largely into the rock/pop/dance categories is stuff by artists I’m already familiar with. I’ve found most new music I’ve enjoyed lately tends to fall largely into classical / jazz / early new age / improvised music / avant-garde / folk and similar realms. Maybe my brain is just preparing me for the fact that next year I’ll be closer to my 40s than my 20s, but discovering labels like ECM and Windham Hill, and delving further into artists like Deuter and Miles Davis seems to have enthused my listening a lot more than trying to find new ambient techno and indie artists who excite me. That said, my top 10 albums of 2017 list is relatively low on surprises for those who are already familiar with my taste:

1. Paul Draper – Spooky Action
2. Roddy Woomble – The Deluder
3. The Future Sound of London – Archived : Environmental : Views
4. Max Richter – Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works
5. Lorde – Melodrama
6. Wire – Silver / Lead
7. Off Land – On Earth
8. 36 – Black Soma
9. Carbon Based Lifeforms – Derelicts
10. London Grammar – Truth is a Beautiful Thing

Anyway, it’s 2018 in a couple of days, and providing the political state of the world doesn’t become even more inflamed, I’m hoping to personally make it through to the end of the year with positivity and purpose. And lose a couple of stone while I’m at it. I always said I’d wake up on my 30th birthday and find myself a fat fucker, and although it’s been a more insidious process, it’s happened and I need to do something about it.

I hope everybody reading had a wonderful festive period, whatever they found themselves doing, and that you all have a wonderful 2018.

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