As of today, you can pre-order the new Sidetrack Walker album, “The Sickness”. Best head over to Bandcamp right away! The release date is set to August 19. I’m launching a first preview single, “Broken Barrel”, alongside the album pre-order, so please check it out and let me know what you think. I sincerely believe that it is among the very best songs I’ve ever made, but listen and decide for yourselves!
As a Bandcamp customer, you will receive another preview track, “To Boldly Let Go”, with your pre-order. This song will not be available on any other platform prior to the album release. Don’t worry about buying the single version of “Broken Barrel” separately, either: it’ll automatically be included in every Bandcamp purchase. And on top of all that, you can look forward to a second single, “Time and Place”, which will follow on July 29.
I don’t have the words to express how eager I am to share “Broken Barrel” and the remaining songs with you. You’re in for a number of surprises, that’s for sure. This album has been an immense learning experience for me, and I feel that it’s a huge step up artistically. While I’d really love for these new songs to be heard by a wider audience, first and foremost they are made for you: many of you have been faithful and supportive since the very start, and I deeply appreciate that.
A word on physical formats
There’s one piece of bad news, too: “The Sickness” will not be released in any physical format for the time being. While I feel that the new songs deserve a proper physical release even more than any of my previous albums, a pressing is just not feasible financially, nor does it seem reasonable considering my CD sales so far. This is particularly painful to accept because I myself am an avid collector of CDs and don’t often listen to non-physical releases. If, like me, you’d like to see a physical release someday, please spread the word about Sidetrack Walker far and wide among your friends. With a bigger fan base to work from, a physical release will once again become a possibility.
More soon. Hope you’re all doing reasonably well despite the crazy times we live in.
Out now at long last on Omni Music: my first official release as The Real Redeemer! The Multiresistance EP consists of two original Drum’n’Bass tracks, both very different from each other, and two remixes. You’ll recognise the trademark sound of long-time collaborator Strukt a.k.a. Andre Jonas in his cinematic remix of “Autopandemic”. Enjoy, and please do let me know what you think, everyone!
Thank you so much to Chris (Eschaton) of Omni Music for making this possible!
If you’ve been following my bulletins these last few weeks, this will come as no surprise: the new Sidetrack Walker single “Deprivation” launches today! You can have a listen right now on your favourite streaming service or, better still, buy it on Bandcamp. As previously announced, Bandcamp customers will receive an exclusive bonus track that should be a real treat for fans of my work. So without further ado, let’s delve into the details I’ve been promising!
The bonus track is the very first sketch of “The Host”, recorded on my phone in June 2018 when I came up with the basic idea for the song. Sharing this with you is a daring experiment well outside my comfort zone, which leaves me feeling somewhat ‘naked’. After all, this recording was made under subpar conditions and never meant to be released. Rather, it was intended as a rough-and-ready memory aid so the ideas wouldn’t slip away. The lyrics, too, are an unpolished version that differs from the final one in several places.
All this notwithstanding, I found myself returning to this sketch again and again for its raw authenticity. Led only by acoustic guitar and vocals, its stripped-down, spontaneous character brings out an entirely different side of the song. At the same time, it offers unique insights into my workflow, drawing back the curtain of my often obsessive perfectionism to reveal the bare-bones inspiration that starts off most of my pieces. I gave the recording a mild mastering treatment, but left its imperfections untouched.
If you are new to Sidetrack Walker and haven’t heard “The Host” yet, check it out on my previous album “The Art of Starvation”, also available from Bandcamp, for a direct comparison!
Well, friends, this wraps up my bulletin series. I hope you enjoyed reading these insights as much as I did sharing them. Thank you for coming along for the ride! Time to celebrate and enjoy “Deprivation”!
Not long ago, a friend asked me about the “Deprivation” cover artwork. What the hell happened to the elegant style of the previous Sidetrack Walker artworks? Why the radical change?
Think back to what I told you in Bulletin #1: with “Deprivation”, I abandoned the natural-sounding approach that characterised much of my earlier output. Instead, my focus shifted towards a dirtier aesthetic highlighting the studio nature of the music and drawing heavily on urban styles from the UK. It was only natural to try and mirror that in the artwork. By the same token, the classic Sidetrack Walker logo is nowhere to be found: in its handwritten elegance, it would have been at odds with the vibe I was trying to convey.
Back in 2014, I took a series of pictures of rainfall against an urban backdrop. I’d been meaning to use some of that material for artwork purposes ever since, and “Deprivation” finally presented the perfect opportunity. The blurry, impersonal setting of urban life complements the lyrical reference to sensory overloads as experienced by people with autism: details fade into one another in an endless, chaotic barrage of impressions; specks of light and their reflections become the ever-changing foci of attention, almost eradicating the human element from the equation. Quite fittingly, my flat at the time was taking its toll on my health for being terribly noisy, and that’s where I took those photos.
Superimposed on the urban setting is the hand-drawn sketch of a golden spiral, representing the ideal of deprivation as outlined in Bulletin 4: an inner place of harmony, offering respite from the incessant onslaught. There is a constant, unresolved tension between the two extremes, hence the stylistic contrast between photograph and sketch. Deprivation remains a vague and elusive ideal at best, never quite able to drown out the background noise.
This week I am deviating slightly from the usual bulletin schedule to bring you this extra piece of exciting news: while the “Deprivation” release is still more than a week out, you can have a listen to the two main tracks right now!
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to get an early impression of the upcoming release! Given my excitement about “Deprivation”, it’s been a test of patience to keep this under wraps, so I am very happy I can share the main part of the single with you a little ahead of schedule. Have a listen, spread the word and, most importantly, let me know what you think in the comments section!
Remember that these two tracks are not the whole story: as a Bandcamp buyer, you will receive an additional, exclusive bonus track which will be revealed in the final bulletin next week. But first, we’ll have a closer look at the artwork in this Friday’s regular bulletin. So stay tuned!
In the previous bulletins, we’ve taken a look at the musical side and difficult birthing process of the new single. Today I’d like to offer some insights into the lyrical themes “Deprivation” deals with.
The title was inspired by sensory deprivation tanks as depicted in the classic film “Altered States” or the series “Fringe”, which I watched at the time. While there is no direct lyrical reference to such tanks in the song, they still permeate it as an implicit metaphor for a state of piece and quiet, away from the constant, chaotic input of everyday life. But what made this concept so appealing in the first place?
In essence, the lyrics deal with the sensory and social overloads experienced by people with autism or, more generally speaking, hypersensitivity. “Deprivation” is intended as a testament to the unseen yet utterly painful struggles these people must face on a daily basis. I hope to raise some awareness for the needs of autistic people who are, by their very definition, forced to live in a system that doesn’t cater to their specific needs, limitations and potential. Worse, their struggles being largely invisible and incomprehensible to their peers, they are usually expected to function according to general norms of communication that remain unexplained and counter-intuitive to them:
“no explanation no script to the play deprivation sweep me away”
Indeed, in the absence of appropriate support, isolation often seems like the only recourse: a retreat from the social stage and into an inner world where “desperation is here to stay”. For, contrary to popular belief, people with autism do need human interaction and emotional exchange. Without it, they wither just like the rest of us. But short of using an actual isolation tank or retreating to extremely quiet and isolated places, a healthy state of deprivation is, for all intents and purposes, an unattainable ideal. Thus the song ends on a resigned note: “Deprivation…? No fucking way.”
First off: only three more weeks until the “Deprivation” single is available! It’s Bandcamp Friday today, so the best moment to place your pre-order is right now. Remember that as a Bandcamp customer, you’ll receive an exclusive, secret bonus track that will be revealed on release day.
Taking a look at the Bandcamp pre-order, you’ll notice a remix alongside the main song. It was created by my friend Andre Jonas a.k.a. Strukt, who also mastered the two tracks. If you’ve been following Sidetrack Walker at all, you’ll probably recognise Andre’s name from the technical credits of my earlier releases. Our collaboration has always been smooth and fruitful, so I am very happy we’re continuing on this path with my new single.
Just like the earlier Strukt Remix of “The Host”, Andre’s interpretation of “Deprivation” brings out an entirely new side to the track that really inspires me. Once again foregoing vocals in favour of a purely instrumental electronica experience, it focuses on elements that play more of a supportive part in the original song. Upon my first listen, I was genuinely surprised at how much arrangement potential still lay dormant in my background synth sequences and e-bow lines in particular – enough, apparently, to base an all-new track around them.
For the remix, Andre also ran my MIDI synth sequences through new virtual instruments – another fun idea I wouldn’t have come up with myself. This way, they’re the same yet not the same: it’s perfectly possible to recognise the phrases and hooks, yet they return in a new guise that sounds quite spaced out and ridiculously catchy!
Whenever I listen to this fresh take on my song, I feel a craving to try my hands on a remix of my own someday, be it of my own music or of somebody else’s. But, alas, I’m already drowning in ideas and projects as it is – would that the day had significantly more hours to spend on music!
Part 2 of the Withered Hands interview is out now, and you’re in for a few surprises. Most importantly, this show will feature two exclusive previews of new, as-yet unreleased tracks from The Real Redeemer, my electronic project! And that’s not all: I had the honour of editing the audio for this one and try to give it a slightly different feel and polish. This has turned into a full-blown collaboration and, as such, a really rewarding experience. Enjoy!
Back in August, I had a very long and open talk with Tom at Withered Hands Podcast, touching on a wide variety of subjects. Today, part 1 of the show is finally out. Sidetrack Walker fans are in for a treat, so be sure to check it out and let me know what you think! Also keep an eye out for part two, which will follow shortly. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to Tom for taking so much time and being incredibly open-minded and kind.
While you’re here, why not drop by the press section to see the reactions to The Art of Starvation so far?
“[W]hat blew me away the most about Will to Leave was the sheer distinction. Sidetrack Walker’s tendency to pull from a myriad of genres […] allowed their sound to spill an alchemic amount of atmospheric intensity.”