2nd June 2014

Since late 2011, with the release of my final Second Thought LP, Leaf Pass, I have been working with a sound I often refer to as ‘ruralism’ (as suggested by The Glimmer Room’s Andy Condon), which generally has a certain sense of warmth, a lot of nostalgia, often lo-fi production quality and frequent use of acoustic instrumentation. Over this time, I’ve produced three albums I’m really proud of (The Blackbirds’ Revenge, Photographic Reflection and East of Evening) along with a handful of other tracks I’m happy with, featured on various ephemeral releases such as the Revolution series.

However, as I was completing what was to be my fourth ruralist album, The Last Swifts of Summer, I began to feel that I had done as much with this sound as I could: I was largely repeating old ideas. Anybody who knows me (or indeed my music) will have an idea of how quickly I get bored of working with a certain sound, and change direction. This was the major reason behind the album’s demise.

With that in mind, you will notice a change of direction with my future releases*. My next album, Two Suns Were Visible in the Sky, picks up where East of Evening left off, but eschews most of that album’s pastoral sound, expanding instead on its more abstract moments (‘Ghost of Dreams Past’, ‘Beyond Evening’ etc.) Don’t worry, I’ve not suddenly started doing dubstep; if anything, Two Suns… is a transitional album, with many of the guitar parts and field recordings not so different to my previous few albums. But it will also be different. A little darker; a little less pretty; a little colder.

Since completing the album, I’ve been laying down a few ideas for my future direction, exploring different approaches. Recently I’ve begun fleshing out these ideas, and working directly on an album which will be released in early 2015. I can’t say too much about it yet – as I don’t know exactly how it’ll shape up myself – but expect something more synthetic; something that moves towards soundtracking an imaginary place, rather than capturing a real one. Having spent a few years looking to the past, I will now be focusing on the present, and possibly the future. I am very excited to be visiting new sonic worlds, and look forward to sharing them with you all. 🙂

In mind of this, you may notice some redecoration around my various online homes.

*the exception being the Clouds in the Shape of Clouds single on Plenty Wenlock, which finally gives that track a home, along with two unreleased pieces of ruralism.

17th May 2012 – The Blackbirds’ Revenge, May Second, new tracks and the future

More release news! It seems like forever since I finished it (it’s eight months since I finished recording it, to be fair), but The Blackbirds’ Revenge finally came out last month, on cassette from Jozik Records. In stark contrast, I’ve recently uploaded some newer recordings straight to my Soundcloud, rather than following a traditional release path, which is a very liberating feeling. The two lo-fi tracks – a very melancholy song and a new acoustic version of my first ever composition, ‘Countryside Melody’ – complete the ‘childhood nostalgia’ theme which has haunted my music for the past year; the third piece is a wonderful remix of ‘A Time Before Computers’ by cubus. Last but not least, Tim’s beautiful Off Land reworking of ‘May’, ‘May 2nd’, is now available from his Bandcamp.

So far, my new music has proved pretty popular, which is nice. I’ve had some really wonderful comments from people regarding the new tracks, and this absolutely wonderful review of The Blackbirds’ Revenge. ‘Clouds in the Shape of Clouds’ even made it onto the 50th release compilation from No-Source. The response on SoundCloud has been rather more subdued – unsurprisingly, really, given there are plenty of people there who were following Second Thought’s electronic direction and not me singing along with my guitar, so that’s all fair. The most important thing is that I’m really happy with what I’ve achieved so far. Revolution 1 & 2 and The Blackbirds’ Revenge are records I felt I had to make. I really felt like I’d gone wrong somewhere with Second Thought, and the direction of everything was making me very unhappy. I felt like things had become too dark and too electronic – I can really sympathise with Gaz Cobain’s post-Dead Cities breakdown now – and I had to make something more human again. Which led to me, a 4-track and an acoustic guitar. The reason I say this all now is that this feels like the end of the first chapter of my post-Second Thought music. The three releases that have come out this year have been the main part of the healing process – thankfully I really enjoy them too – and now I think I’m ready to continue with my journey. This is the first time since I started Safernoc that I’m not waiting to release something. I have nothing recorded for the next release. I have lots of ideas written, but none are complete and nothing has been commited to tape. It’s actually a very nice position to be in. I also feel a lot more comfortable with the idea of experimenting with electronics and effects and stuff now. I don’t see myself creating an electronic record any time soon, but I want to make something a teensy bit more ‘soundscapey’ again. But I have no urgency at the minute. I don’t reckon there’ll be anything else solo from me put out this year. But the most important thing is, in terms of how I see my music, I feel as happy now as I did around the time of recording Purlieu and Safernoc. So all is good.

Anyway, that’s enough self-indulgence. Things will be quiet for a few months now, although there is the Sturmazdale album – and a promotional mix alongside it – in the summer at some point; and I’ll keep everybody updated with any recording progress as and when it happens. And there’s always Twitter to keep you updated on any interesting musical matters in the meantime.