BAK

Jour­ney into the mys­ti­cal world of Bak­lan­dia with an in­ter­di­men­sional axe god.

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

The Bak­mas­ter, re­s­plen­dent in glory as he is, is a crea­ture of great imag­i­na­tion with a pen­chant for a pithy quote. “Th­ese days, mu­si­cians say less is more,” he clacks his beak gen­tly. “But for me, more is more. I want mu­sic to be big, am­bi­tious and all-en­com­pass­ing.”

And who is this Bak­mas­ter? Ask him and he’ll tell you: “Grand ob­server, guide and or­a­cle to the BaK uni­verse. An in­ter­di­men­sional be­ing hail­ing from Bak­lan­dia – the uni­verse be­tween uni­verses, the space be­tween spa­ces, the time be­tween time and the void be­tween ex­is­tence and obliv­ion.”

BaK, then, is the ve­hi­cle for the Bak­mas­ter’s mu­si­cal out­put. It’s not so much a band (BaK has never per­formed live) but more an artis­tic con­cept. True to his role as a guide, BaK is a means for the mul­ti­verse to be cap­tured ar­tis­ti­cally.

“It’s com­plete en­ter­tain­ment,” in­tones the Bak­mas­ter. “Richard Wag­ner had a con­cept called Ge­samtkunst­werk – it de­scribes the bring­ing to­gether of the mu­si­cal, the vis­ual and the con­cep­tual into one com­plete artis­tic pack­age.”

Ac­cord­ingly, BaK’s lat­est mu­si­cal out­put is more than just the EP, Flower. It also in­cludes a comic book de­tail­ing the quest of the Orchid Hunter to find the rare BaK Orchid (and his en­counter with the Bak­mas­ter along the way). On top of this,

Flower is ac­com­pa­nied by sev­eral artis­tic video clips that bring the lis­tener more deeply into this in­trigu­ing mul­ti­verse.

To the av­er­age mu­sic fan, the songs on Flower can best be de­scribed us­ing the Bak­mas­ter’s favoured genre tag: ethno-prog. While claim­ing no par­tic­u­lar in­flu­ence, the Bak­mas­ter’s gui­tar stylings are rem­i­nis­cent of both John Petrucci of Dream The­ater and Adam Jones of Tool. Com­po­si­tion­ally, his songs walk a tightrope be­tween pro­gres­sive metal’s ag­gres­sion and the scope of mod­ern movie sound­tracks. Or­ches­tral and world mu­sic el­e­ments are as im­por­tant in the sound of BaK as crunchy riffs.

In terms of gui­tars used for the record­ings, the Bak­mas­ter has quite a col­lec­tion – this is less than sur­pris­ing, of course, con­sid­er­ing he’s a be­ing ca­pa­ble of tran­scend­ing time and space. He speaks fondly of lim­ited edi­tion mod­els by Suhr and Ca­pari­son, as well as two Jerry Jones sitars.

The Bak­mas­ter has also taught him­self to play the ba lama, some­times called a saz. “It’s a Turk­ish stringed in­stru­ment,” the Bak­mas­ter ex­plains. “There are seven strings di­vided into cour­ses of two, two and three. It can be tuned in var­i­ous ways and takes dif­fer­ent names ac­cord­ing to its re­gion and size. It’s like the lute or the oud, but has a much longer neck with mov­able mi­cro­tonal frets.”

The Bak­mas­ter has many more re­leases (he calls them ‘BaK­packs’) recorded, ready to go af­ter Flower has spent some time in the world. At the mo­ment, he’s most com­fort­able in the stu­dio, work­ing long hours with a mys­te­ri­ous Ger­man au­dio en­gi­neer, flown in from his home coun­try to an undis­closed lo­ca­tion to work with the Bak­mas­ter.

Live per­for­mance hasn’t been on the agenda for the Bak­mas­ter thus far. Given the com­plex na­ture of the mu­sic and the all-con­sum­ing na­ture of his ami­bi­tion to rep­re­sent Bak­lan­dia faith­fully, the reg­u­lar pub gig is just not go­ing to cut it.

“I know this must sound odd to you, but if we’re go­ing to play live, the first show will need to be a sta­dium show,” he says. “I’ve put too much into com­pos­ing and writ­ing this mu­sic and nur­tur­ing this world to have it be per­formed in a small lo­ca­tion by a hand­ful of peo­ple and a lap­top. If and when we take it live, it’s go­ing to need to in­volve lots of peo­ple and the right vis­ual pre­sen­ta­tion to take you into that world.”

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