Loose Lips

Bernard Baum - Onra (Panatype)

Interview & Premiere

Bernard Baum - Onra (Panatype)

Recently, we've come across Panatype, an amazing label dabbling in ambience and left-field experiments. To herald in their new release by Bernard Baum, we've got a tasty premiere from the album for you, as well as a interview with Bernard, conducted by none other than T-Scaleeeeeeeeeee!!

The album, 'After', will be available digitally and on cassette, from https://panatype.bandcamp.com/album/after on the 1st December.

Hi, first tell us a little bit about yourself. Is Bernard your real name?

Hi Loose Lips! Bernard is my middle name and comes from my grandfather who died before I was born and Baum was his surname so it’s half and half. I liked the alliteration, my Mum gave me the ok to use it and so here we are.

I’ve recently just moved to Offenbach, a town next to Frankfurt (think Croydon and London) but prior to that I was living in South London and that was where all the tracks for the release were written. I co-run Panatype with Alec Falconer and my release is the second full release on the label after we debuted earlier this year with Schuttle’s tape ‘Home’.

We've been enjoying your forthcoming release which we've premiered 'Onra' from; it's very coherent. Did you work on this album as a concept or did you piece together tracks that had the same sort of sound palette?

The album was drawn from material written over the course of the last two years, with the majority of the tracks coming from a six month period between November 2016 and May of this year. There isn’t an overarching concept behind the music on this release but a lot of thought has gone into creating a cohesive sound that the tracks inhabit. 

We hear a lot of field recordings on this release, can you disclose where you've taken them from? What's the weirdest place you've found yourself recording from?

They come from all over the place, things I’ve gone out and recorded myself, stuff sampled from Youtube and elsewhere on the internet.

I find that in the majority of times I use a field recording it is very rare that it is recognisable to its original source material. For instance, using ‘Onra’ as an example, the sound of the rain pattering heard throughout the track is actually taken from a recording of a building site, which I have then run through loads of effects, probably resampled, stretched/reversed etc....I don’t intentionally set out to twist things in this way but I always find myself intrigued by the possibilities of what might happen if you add this plugin when combined with that plugin. It’s interesting where you can take a sound after a few minutes of experimentation.

As for the strangest place I’ve found myself recording - one of my friends is in a barbershop choir and I recorded one of their gigs in a church, although sadly none of this was used on the album haha. On a similar tip - I wrote majority of of the track ‘Flyst' when I was at work one day and there was nobody else in the office.

Does a field recording inspire your music from its history or do you give this recording a sense of history by creating music around it?

I think it’s a little bit of both depending on the nature of the recording and what you are trying to achieve. For this project the source of the sound was secondary and everything that was used was for its sonic and tonal qualities and was seldom in its original state. 

That being said, I would definitely like to work on something in the future where the two are more closely intertwined and when I have a concept that I feel warrants further exploration I’ll do so. The next tape we’re putting out on Panatype, by an artist called Red Hook Grain Terminal is very much in this vein, so keep an eye out for that one.

Your music sounds very organic and naturally flowing, do you make tracks mostly while playing live or do you try to assemble and automate?

Thanks! I generally tend to jam on an idea for a few hours in Ableton in the session view, triggering clips. Then once I’m happy with it, I’ll switch to the arrange view and build it up from there. All the of tracks except for ‘After’ were made this way; that was played live and is a combination of four different takes that were then layered. Because all but one track are beat-less, nothing is quantised and on the gird, so sometimes things drift in and out of time. When you then couple with automation I’ve added either live, or via LFOs or other plugins and layers of noises, you’re left with something that rarely stays in the same place for too long.

Do you think ambient and more left-field/spaced out music have their place at raves in venues that can hold a second room? Or is there an absolute need to separate these more abstract types of music from that context in order to get on a singular type of vibe?

I absolutely think that there is a place for this kind of music at nights and I think that it’s really encouraging that people seem to be becoming more open to it. Just because something doesn’t have a beat, doesn’t mean that it’s meant for background listening - lots of things need to be listened to at volumes so that you also get a physical response and people are curious about this and more open to the challenge.

Is SE5 generally an OK place to be on a comedown or not?

During the time that I lived there, it was for the most part.

Do you have other projects apart from this one?

I’m constantly writing music but I have a tendency to hoard it and very rarely send anything to more than a handful of close friends. I had a few releases under another alias a few years ago but since then I’ve been focusing on getting my chops down so to speak and I’m getting to a standard where I’m happy with things now.

Aside from music I also do sound design for animation, film and installations and I’ve also done a couple of workshops in partnership with The Tate for school children using Arduino to create sound installations.

We're always interested in discovering new music, do you have any music to recommend us that inspires you?

These three albums that have been on rotation quite heavily recently

Skee Mask: Shred

Orson Wells: Pneumatics

Dan Curtin: The Silicon Dawn

In addition to that, lots of music that is being made by friends and forthcoming releases on Panatype - shout outs to Alec Falconer, Rob Amboule, Schuttle, Red Hook Grain Terminal, Jackson Blumenthal, Dream Cycle, Jaxson Payne.