Who is your master? asks Kris Baha. This is the overarching theme running through the Berlin via Australia artist's new six tracker on Rotterdam imprint Pinkman. Having debuted on the label last year with Can't Keep The Fact, his return brings a nostalgia-inducing blend of EBM, wave and post-punk, smattered with chugged-out modulations and overdubbed vocals.
This EP adds to Kris' healthy catalogue which has taken him to labels like She Lost Kontrol, the enigmatic Bahnsteig 23, CockTail d'Amore and his own imprint Power Station. From his native Melbourne Kris began the label and night in 2015, before continuing the running of the imprint from Berlin, and has since welcomed artists like Jensen Interceptor, piska power, Disrute and his own musings.
Talking of which, we asked Kris to break down his new EP for Pinkman track by track...
‘My Master’ is the realisation that I am indeed my own master. I feel like I need to start with this first even though it's not the first track on the EP. But being the EP title it explains the narrative as a whole and will become obvious that the following track titles relate to the same theme but also follow a chronological sequence of the realisation.
The vocals are the most obvious element of this: ‘can you reach out, I’m trying to reach out, for my master’. Another deliberate moment is when the drums come in double time, that is when the realisation hits.
On the technical side of things this song, along with the others, were recorded at the same time so they all have a certain sonic aesthetic. They were recorded as live takes and then edited down later. I used an Octatrack, Korg KR55, DSI Tempest & Poly Evolver, Arp2600 being processed with my small euro rack briefcase of effects - Erica Synths DSP & Make Noise ErbeVerb, Make Noise Rene. Plus some other bits - Sequential Circuits Pro 1, Sequential Circuits Prophet VS and loads of external eft processing being recorded on the way in (Eventide H3000, DSP4500, Lexicon200 and others) and me playing the Leads on a Roland Jupiter 4.
Fuels the Fire
‘Fuels the Fire’ is self explanatory in the context of the above; that when you fuel all these thoughts they indeed fuel the fire. The main bass sequence came about during a live show where I was transitioning to the next song and stumbled on this happy accident on the Poly Evolver. I had to go back and do a bit of over dubbing from the Poly Evolver which all the leads and bass sequences came from. I also played some metal percussion and layered quite a lot of short reverbs doing live takes from my Erbe Verb and Pico Drums of the decay with some snare hits.
‘Two Sides’ is about being torn, and the reason why it appears before ‘My Master’ is to highlight how difficult it is to be caught in a feedback loop with yourself. I was pretty excited about this one as it's a song rather then a club track and for me I found it quite liberating to delve into this, and into my song writing past, with the knowledge it's for listening.
This was initially done in a live take but I overdubbed the vocals when I wrote lyrics later, except for the dubbed ‘this dark space’ in the middle which was apart of the live take. I was running my vocals into a Electroharmonix hot tubes pedal (owned by Kim Gordon and courtesy of my studio partner Cosmo Vitelli) and then a Strymon Capistan. I came up with all the vocal melodies in the original demos (and always do this). This was recorded with an Octatrack, Arp2600 as the main baseline, Pro 1 taking care of the Sequence and the Jupiter 4 for the lead.
Chase Your Shadow
I wrote this at the same period as 'Two Sides' and 'My Master'. The track mutates halfway through into something else. Both sequences were done with the arp2600 so there was some over dubbing going on here. I was using the Jupiter 4 again for the leads.
I wanted something really minimalistic to follow the theme of how it feels to give yourself up - there are only four-five instruments being played here. The Octratrack doing the drums, the main bass sequence coming from my arp2600 being mutated by my small Eurorack rig, the poly evolver doing some sequenced gritty hats, a Dfam taking care of extra noise percussion and me playing the lead lines on the DSI pro 2 via arp sync lock.
Even though this could be thrown into the same category of my “Fuel the” track title series, this is meant to represent the symptom’s post-realisation and the vocals keep repeating Fuel so It would of felt weird to me to try and call it something else. This was originally a sequence I came up with for a remix which was rejected so I just used the sequence for something else…. ‘Fuel, Crack the Whip’