Friday, 1 March 2013

David Baker's Variety Lights join Pere Ubu on UK tour


All dates with Pere Ubu
13 April: The Haunt, Brighton, UK
14 April: Arts Centre, Colchester, UK
15 April: The Sage, Gateshead, UK
16 April: Fibbers, York, UK
17 April: Mono, Glasgow, UK
18 April: Band On The Wall, Manchester, UK
19 April: Thekla, Bristol, UK
20 April: Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, UK
21 April: Robin 2, Bilston, UK
22 April: Eric’s, Liverpool, UK
23 April: Bush Hall, London, UK

It doesn’t matter where David Baker has been. There are rumors and whispers, hints and allegations, supposed truths far stranger than fiction. Pay them no mind. What matters is that David Baker is back. Having released the stunning debut LP Central Flow last year, Baker returns to the UK under his Variety Lights guise to tour with Pere Ubu in April 2013. Joining him for a special UK Tour version of Variety Lights, the live line-up will feature Swervedriver/Bolts of Melody guitarist Adam Franklin.

Although Variety Lights’ Central Flow signals Baker’s return to music after close to two decades out of the limelight, in some respects he’s been here all the time. His otherworldly fingerprints are smeared across an entire generation of avant-pop records channeling his sound and vision: Erase from the annals of music history Baker’s pioneering work on the first two, most formally radical Mercury Rev albums (Yerself Is Steam and Boces, respectively) or the solo effort World, credited to his Shady alias, and the widescreen ambitions of contemporary critics’ darlings like Animal Collective, Deerhunter and Tame Impala become absolutely unthinkable.

Admirers of Baker’s previous work will find much to savour on Central Flow, but don’t expect a retread. Recorded at his own Over the Trees studio, Variety Lights’ taut, post-Teutonic electronic pop fuses Baker’s spectral, multi-layered croon with burbling, buzzing analogue synthesizers, programmed rhythms and an arsenal of guitar effects. Songs like “Silent Too Long” and “You Are So Famous” expertly balance the human and the alien, juxtaposing chrome-plated melodies against Baker’s most emotionally intense and direct performances to date.

“Rock and roll is about getting something inside of you out,” Baker says. “There can be multiple things happening within any great song: You can cry, you can fall in love, you can go to another dimension. Music takes to you different places. It’s giving you something emotional, interesting or odd, and it’s not buffed out.”

While Central Flow contains multitudes, the impulses and inspirations shaping Variety Lights elude even Baker himself: This is music exploring and forged by the mysteries of life. “Irrational is part of what I do,” Baker says. “You shouldn’t leave out the accidental or the embarrassing or the emotional or the sexual. Good artists don’t always know what they did. There’s a random, unseen presence there – some kind of force that’s happening if you allow it to.”

Now that Baker’s back, the question isn’t where he’s been but where he’s going next. “I’m still trying to challenge myself,” he says. “If you say there are rules to follow, then your music starts sounding like other people. If you worry about being right, you’re going to be wrong. I’m just trying to make something necessary for me – sometimes it’s a catharsis, or sometimes it’s just problem solving. And I know that if I’m writing for me, someone else will find something meaningful to them, too.”

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