Like Kygo and Thomas Jack and Matoma, Bakermat was a part of the rising tropical/chill house scene in 2013-2014. Over the years, he’s stuck to that sound despite diminishing interest as bass and harder house styles rose the ranks. But back in 2018, he dropped a song called “Partystarter.” It was a wild departure from his previous singles “Do Your Thing” and “Lion,” an almost-indie rock piece full of energy with infectious chants and some gritty guitar riffs.
Little did anyone know at the time that they’d just bore witness to the first single from Bakermat’s upcoming debut album, The Ringmaster.
When I was first sent the album a little over two weeks ago, I hadn’t listened to Bakermat in years. I still remembered him as that one tropical house producer, but the album immediately took me by surprise with the opening track, “Trouble” featuring Albert Gold. With Gold’s sublime voice coming in over mesmerizing strings, it drew me in with such astonishing quickness — I felt myself leaning forward in my chair, waiting for the next sultry chords.
It’s that sort of defiance of expectation that dominates The Ringmaster, a tour de force in surprise and amazement. Bakermat himself serves as ringmaster in this circus of rotating contributing artists, from Gold to GoldFord, Alex Clare, Kidda, Emily Lind and BRÅVES, 7Chariot, and Savannah Jeffreys. Like someone who’s honed his craft, he deftly maneuvers and positions his players in key posts.
“With this album, I am the Ringmaster of my own circus presenting you with a big variety of songs in different styles,” Bakermat says. “I hope the listener, just like in an actual circus, will experience a big diversity in emotions while listening.”
Bakermat has made a Circus a large part of his brand for years. Since starting ‘Bakermat’s Circus’ in 2015, the Dutch producer has developed an expanding community where “artists can push themselves musically, and the audience is carried away by the music, the event, and its extraordinary ambiance.” With his debut album, he now includes himself in that ethos.
Unlike other albums where it might be best to forget everything about an artist before listening, remembering that Bakermat used to produce exclusively tropical house while listening to The Ringmaster actually provides an ironically powerful experience. When you think that his sound used to be so… tropical, and then hear this, each and every chord and synth is amplified.
At only 30 minutes, the 10-track album is fairly short, but never without something to latch onto and remember. Whether it’s the playful “Pretty Little Jaguar” or anthemic “Learn To Lose” or emotionally wrenching “Out Of Control,” The Ringmaster deftly bobs and weaves through genres and influences with an impressive dexterity. The variety of influences entirely by design, as well.
“I made the album ‘The Ringmaster’ to show my diversity as a producer,” Bakermat says, “and to go against the idea that an artist should stick to one genre or style with his or her album in order for it to be a cohesive body of work.”
He continues, “I think despite the big difference in style and genre between some of the songs, the tracks all have the same sound and express the same love for melody and live instrumentation that I have always cherished as a producer. The album consists of both really happy and really sad tunes. Just as life consists of both really happy, and really sad moments. My aim is for people to be cheered
up by the happy songs, and find comfort by the sad ones.”