About

spbaker

abre ojos is one project of me - Scott Baker. I currently live in Melbourne Australia in the foothills of the Dandenong ranges with national park on one side and the city on the other. My art practice has been through many different evolutions and identities from soil64 to spbaker and ihatemyname.net to what seems to be the most comfortable mask to wear - abre ojos. I am also currently one half of look to the skies a collaboration with Rob Jones, a mashing of digital and analogue sound.

It has been a long road to this point from art school in Wagga Wagga New South Wales to living in London, to now, making radical shifts from visual art- textiles, painting, installation, digital art- to working only with audio to now where a point of balance has been made (more on that in a moment).

abre ojos is a term I found while reading a book called 1606 - An Epic Adventure by Evan McHugh. 1606 is about the multiple discoveries and voyages to Australia before the "official discovery" by Captain James Cook in 1788. "Abre Ojos" was a constant saying by the Spanish and Portuguese sailors while navigating the dangerous reef infested waters surrounding Australia's coastline meaning "Watch Out" or "Open Your Eyes" there is danger all around.

This works on so many levels for me! There are so many strange things happening in this world of ours, dangerous things, distorted things, lies, false truths, conspiracies (do a search for chemtrails), sleight of hand, facades, and on the other hand joy, love, honesty - how can I not live here on this planet without saying to myself "abre ojos" - open my eyes, stay alert, stay afloat, there are things just under the surface ready to take me down.

My practice and passion in visual art and sound make abre ojos the perfect balance for me, more than a "music clip or video", it is both elements addressed equally, both recorded live and improvised at the same time, see the how page for more info.

 

Inspiration

The single biggest inspiration for my sound came from an amazing opportunity to work with Alan Lamb and be taught by him how to make a wind organ in Wagga Wagga in the late winter early spring of 2004. This came at a time where the frantic pace of Aphex Twin and Venetian Snares, the glitch of Pansonic and the noise of Merzbow and early Einsturzende Neubauten were driving my music making as spbaker and releases at ihatemyname.net which were equally frantic, glitchy and noise ridden. Suddenly here I was working with someone whose work relied on the weather, with simple tools, minimal interaction with the finished instrument and seemingly existed in a completely different time and space. If only I knew then what I knew now...

One thing I remember about the experience was that I was always in a hurry, frantic even, what's next, what happens now, this stuff every minute through the whole construction phase while Alan took things as they came, patiently, contemplating and reflecting on each step. Then it was finished, a single strand of wire made into a pair by running it through a heavy duty pulley at one end fixed to a massive granite boulder, tensioned, ethereal, barely there...

Then came the sound, captured through electret contact microphones into a couple of preamps. Putting on the headphones was like putting your head into a worm hole, hearing sounds captured by NASA satellites, harmonics triggering harmonics, layered, soothing (healing) drones. I still didn't know what I was hearing or had developed an aesthetic for it, that was still to come. The organ is still there and I hope to visit it again in the near future, with new appreciation! Thanks Alan!

The aesthetic hit me after being introduced to Sunn O))) and Lustmord, then Robert Rich, Steve Roach, Atrium Carceri, these artists let time stretch out releasing the bounds of the average 3 minute song, letting the sounds resonate and have their own space without falling into rigid structure allowing the sounds to drive themselves and everything for me fell into place.

Conventional percussion was left behind, sounds were allowed to evolve and react to each other, vocals from all the metal bands I had heard in my life came back to me, the richness and flexibility of the human voice, that there was someone there saying things just outside of comprehension, where the subconscious emotional reaction was more important than comprehension from the rational mind. Coil was a massive influence with their use of esoteric chants and mantras. The same with Karl Hyde from Underworld with his rhythmic lyrics.

I could fill this page with other influences but these are the few with the most impact and maybe give you a point of reference as to where I reside on the sonic landscape, a way to approach and to help you give yourself the time to listen and to experience. In the words of Maynard from Tool, find a place that's comfortable and vulnerable, take from it what you will, what you need and hopefully: abre ojos!

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