purlieu

6th March 2014

Having done a lot of trawling through various hard discs, backup CDrs and DVDrs, and other headache-inducing madness, I have finally come up with the goods for the 10 year anniversary edition of Purlieu.

There will be two editions:

1. Standard CD re-issue

2. Limited edition CD + 5xC30 tape re-issue

The limited edition will feature a box of C30 tapes, including the whole album on cassette for the first time, and two tapes of outtakes, alternative versions, demos and remixes (some previously heard, some unreleased).

The most exciting part (for me) is the discovery of the very first mix of the record from October 2002, when it was originally mooted to be an EP to follow my Twenty-Four CDr album. It exists as a 15 minute track and is a lot more abstract than the final version, although all the elements ended up on the final CD.

More information coming soon. Still hoping for a May release date.

13th February 2013

All of my past music that’s available has now been added to my main Bandcamp.  This basically brings together past work as Second Thought and The Curse of Kevin Carter under one banner, which is certainly not how I originally imagined things, but I’m now happy to just say ‘this is me’.  I have included a wealth of bonus material in here, too.  First off, Purlieu has been rounded off with a 30 minute collage collecting various related unreleased material of similar style, from the Purlieu, Leaf Pass and East of Evening sessions.  Since Every Hour is Too Late has been expanded to include a selection of synth pieces from the same sessions, and closes with ‘May Revisited’.  There are also bonus remixes and live takes included in the downloads of Vacuum Road Songs and Safernoc.  Finally, the lost Second Thought album Aeolian Landform is available in its original format, after a short appearance under my Obliquity monker a couple of years ago, in its rightful place amongst my other records.  This now gives the whole page a rather strange feel, collecting together ambient techno, modern classical, lo-fi acoustics and various other genres, but why should genres matter, really?

All of the albums (except East of Evening, of which there are still a few tape copies available) are available as name-your-price downloads, so there is potentially eleven hours of free music to grab there, although I am saving towards some new gear which I’ll be needing to work on my next album, so all donations are very gratefully received.  Enjoy!

12th December 2011

Last December I put out a free EP called Christmas, as a thank you to everyone who’d stuck with me through the overbearingly tedious series of releases put out in 2010. I wanted to make the ‘free Christmas download’ a regular thing, and this year I decided to release a compilation. Another Setting Sun is a collection of unreleased or otherwise impossible-to-find tracks dating back to my first computer recordings and forward to this year. It began as an archive collection, but encouraged by how well Leaf Pass came together, I built it up to be a fully collaged album at the beginning of the year. It is out today, fittingly on No-Source, the label run by Tim Dwyer, the person who’s been listening to my music longer than anybody else other than myself and my parents. The album ends with the muffled lyric ‘I’m finally happy’, and it’s a very fitting end. With Autumn tying up the 2010 excess that I was so unhappy with, I leave Second Thought behind with a discography to be proud of.

This will be my last journal entry as Second Thought. A project which began, in its own way, twelve years and four months ago, but feels like it began several lifetimes ago, is finally over. It’s been a very strange ride. In 1999 I was creating potential CD sleeves for mine and Dale’s techno tracks, yet when in late 2000 I finally made a CD to fit one of the sleeves, it was solo material. In 2003 I finished the album I’m most proud of; in 2009 I came out of a six year writer’s block with Vacuum Road Songs to show, and a new album brewing. During my absence, a whole new MP3 and CDr scene emerged, and sadly my response was to flood it with half-baked ideas; even two more albums I’m incredibly proud of couldn’t change the fact that I’d made the Second Thought name – one I never liked much to start with – redundant. And so it ends.

Second Thought will always remind me of Hinckley, of my parents’ front room where almost all of the music I’m proud of was recorded. Three pieces in particular stand out as the most important tracks I made. ‘Station’, in May or June 2002, was a massive leap forward, thanks to an important lesson in music production. My tracks before were largely laughably amateurish sounding bleepy computer pieces; suddenly, I was making music as high quality as CDs I bought (even on its re-release in 2011 on Leaf Pass, ‘Station’ received much praise). A few months later I wrote ‘Rooftops’, which had almost everybody who listened to it gushing: not only had I made music that impressed me, but I’d made music that impressed others. ‘Rooftops’ got the attetion of Joe at Project Aristotle, who then wanted to release Purlieu – suddenly I felt like my music was validated. When I recorded ‘Savernake’ in February 2009, I’d almost given up Second Thought for good, but gave it one more go. Somehow, I managed to record something much punchier and ‘professional’ sounding than ever before; not only that, but the track was great! ‘Savernake’ rescued Second Thought.

Those aren’t my favourite tracks, just the most important. If I had to pick my favourite tracks recorded as Second Thought, they would be ‘May’, ‘Aqueduct’, ‘Machine’, ‘Time’, ‘Gone Forever’ and my collaboration with Full-Source, ‘The Significant Other’. They might not be the most representitive pieces – barely any piano! – but as individual tracks they work marvellously. I can’t say any more about them.

There are a lot of people I’d like to thank, most of whom I’ve probably not thanked, or at least thanked enough, in the past. Chris Sisk, for the Fruityloops tutorial in 2002 that shaped my music; Joe Dobzynski, for the passion and belief in Purlieu that gave me the courage to release it on CD; Tim Dwyer for still listening after all these years, and the countless collaborative projects; Jack Anderton for listening as a fan as well as a friend; Lucy for supporting me when everything seemed wrong; and Brian Dougans, Gaz Cobain and Graham Hicks for things I cannot begin to put into words. Without knowing it, every one of you has stopped me from giving up at one point or another.

Thank you to Thom, Gregg, Muzz, Arron, Rufus, Themis, Liam, Pippa, John Sherwood, Andy B, Andy C, Dell, Matt and Ben, for listening, caring and making it all worthwhile. I hope you find something to enjoy in the music I put out in the future.

Most of all, I’d like to thank Dale Clarke. You’re almost certainly not reading, and we haven’t been in touch in years, but it was that afternoon in your room in August 1999 when you suggested making some music – seriously this time, rather than singing along to The Shadows and Chicane – that started everything. It might have fallen apart after a year, but the enthusiasm you brought out in the both of us inspired me to take my own music that extra step, buy a keyboard, get some software and start actually writing music. If that conversation had never happened, it would have taken me years to get past the stage of just recording some tapes in my room on my guitar, and I certainly wouldn’t be in the position I am today. So thank you.

A brief diversion and something I used to do and wanted to get back to doing, my top ten albums of 2011:

Deaf Centre – Owl Splinters
Jack Anderton – The Missing Couple
Jesse Conner – Hard-A-Port
Wire – Red Barked Trees
Thursday – No Devolucion
Underworld – Frankenstein Soundtrack
Roddy Woomble – The Impossible Song & Other Songs
The Streets – Computers and Blues
Full-Source – Farewell These Unknown Suns
Jack Anderton – Riparian Forest

Honourable mentions go to Off Land and Current 93.

There’s a whole new website with a tidied up discography, news on The Blackbirds’ Revenge and so on coming in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I’ve put up some details of my pre-Purlieu releases on the front page, for the few who may be interested, and for nostalgia’s sake. I hope everybody has a wonderful Christmas and New Year. For now, thank you so much for reading, and… goodbye.

5th November 2011

I’ve got label stuff sorted for The Blackbirds’ Revenge, which is good – coming soon to a cassette label near you (or probably not, unless you live in Finland). I was thinking about how different it will seem compared to my previous albums, but in many ways it shouldn’t come as too much of surprise. It depends how you perceive my previous music. Part of the shunning of Aeolian Landform, the 2010 releases and other stuff from my catalogue was due to it not seeming personal. While my first three albums might not seem personal, they weren’t massive widescreen soundtracks either. Purlieu was based very much on the Leicestershire countryside I was so familiar with; Vacuum Road Songs started with my fascination with city life and ended with my experience of it; Safernoc explored my interest and fascination with ghost stories, myths and legends. Otherwise, Since Every Hour is Too Late adopted a track-by-track emotional approach, and Leaf Pass was more gentle, rural and even acoustic in sound, with the presence of an actual song – ‘Anticipated Lies’ (admittedly muffled and placed in the background). The Blackbirds’ Revenge – and my music to come – will continue in the spirit of all of these albums, but particularly the elements of the last two albums that I highlighted there. The music will remain as personal (and inspired by my life and surroundings) as ever – maybe just in a slightly more obvious way.

It’s rather typical that as I’m rounding things up for Second Thought – just two months to go – the name is getting more attention than ever before. I’ve had several positive reviews for Safernoc, Since Every Hour is Too Late and Leaf Pass lately, and the Nearby Forest mix is now available to download from The New Worck. And another appearance on an FSOL Electric Brain Storm mix. After a long period of self-doubt, the last few months have seen such genuine interest and passion for my music that it’s really settled my mind.

In slightly less positive news, college didn’t work out too well, for a number of reasons that I shan’t go into here. So music is slightly higher on the agenda again, but I’m still on the playing guitar and coming up with little ideas front rather than taking it much further – once I get some more recording equipment and The Blackbirds’ Revenge is out, I can maybe make some progress. Next year probably.

4th September 2011

Some people might be mistaken in thinking that being one of those people who is constantly recording is a good thing. It’s not! Well, it has its down sides, at least. For a while I’ve been worrying that I’m actually working on too much music, but then I remember even around the time of Purlieu I was recording that, and almost an album’s worth of material that didn’t make it onto the album, and a couple of 2T Records, and a So Far So Good album, and some nonsense as Rory and the Smendles, and still at college and persuing a social life. So perhaps it’s not so odd that, given the fact I have nothing to do at the moment, I’m coming up with a lot of new music. It’s all being put into different boxes on different themes. I’ve decided to revisit the original ideas behind Vacuum Road Songs (long before it turned into the maddening journey through a city story it was planned to be a more grim sounding soundtrack to a rather scary part of a city – think Burial’s first album in mood), a ghost story themed album inspired by a car trip near Hinckley, the electro-acoustic experiments I’ve spoken of before, the old tape collage, and a box for general stuff that might get used in the future. I’m getting in touch with labels to see what will be released where and when. Hopefully a few bits and bobs will be out over the course of 2012.

I spent much of yesterday playing with a melodica, writing, recording, manipulating sounds. It works very well at forming an ambient backdrop, and I came up with some great sounds. I think I really need to get a guitar very soon. Given the opportunity to write tracks, rather than piece them together on the computer, it should slow down my progress without stopping me from being musical!

13th August 2011

At relatively short notice, Leaf Pass is out today, which can be downloaded for free by clicking here, courtesy of Treetrunk Records. I recently described the album as ‘the best accident I’ve ever had’ – it began life as a couple of longform Canal Seven-style pieces on a collection called Habitats 1-3, but I was just never very happy with it so I scrapped the release. Then, for reasons unknown to me, I decided to merge it together and split it into 16 tracks a la a normal album, and it all came together perfectly into a record I’m really proud of. Some of the material on the album is new stuff, some is very old – pre-Purlieu, from the Twenty-Four demo disc, for those of you who still remember it – but it all sits together nicely. The presence of pre-Purlieu material, combined with the sunny rural sounding beginnings, moving on to a more sinister end section, came together to make the album a bit of a prequel to Purlieu really. It’s a bit of a diversion from the modern classical direction of the last couple of albums and what’s to come, and was released now as a way to tie things up with Second Thought. This is the last of the five major albums.

I always intended to do linking albums, although it was never meant to end this way. I had four albums planned: Purlieu and Vacuum Road Songs, then Dead Hymns, a dark ambient/industrial album which had the listener going through a sort of ‘personal hell’, followed by Crib Goch, a spiritual reawakening based around piano and string pieces that would end the series. Instead, the hell was replaced by myths and ghost stories of Safernoc, and I took things one step further by tying the last album up as a memory of how the journey began. That this managed to come out just as Second Thought was ending is a wonderful coincidence and basically makes me very happy.

Anyway, Leaf Pass is out now. A CDr version will be working its way to a few special people who’ve supported me and bought the other albums over the years. That’s the end of Second Thought, musically, the last new material to come out, the end of the story that some people have been following since 2002/2003 when I started work on material that made its way onto this album and Purlieu. It’s been quite a ride. I hope you enjoy the album!

4th July 2011

The first album I’ll be releasing under my own name is done and label stuff is, staggeringly, sorted. It should be coming out on an established CDr label with whom it should be entirely at home. I’m very proud of the record actually… it’s a continuation of the modern classical sensibilities of Since Every Hour Is Too Late and a continuation of the melodies and sample-based textures of Purlieu. There are some atonal pieces and some more conventional almost Second Thought-ish tracks. The album will be called Sturmazdale, and the tracklist runs a little like this:

01. Oncoming Storm
02. Rain
03. Rectangles
04. Talnoa
05. The Deck
06. Upper Path
07. Hillside
08. Caves
09. 75
10. Underview
11. Vars
12. Lower Path
13. E Ccc

I really miss my guitar. I haven’t played it in at least a year. I was listening to Current 93’s Music from the Horse Hospital last night and it made me want to actually do some performance. A jam with other musicians. Once I’m settled somewhere, I want to find some musicians who’ll be interested in doing that. It’ll be nice to get back to actually playing music for once, as opposed to just sitting at the computer. I used to do that a lot more a few years ago (hmmm… nine or ten years ago), when guitar appeared much more in my music – on Second Thought or in my So Far So Good stuff – and when I did collaborations with Gregg and Laura and people. Purlieu even had a non-electronic track, Nsepan, which was performed by myself on piano and my friend John on viola. That kind of thing was great fun and I really miss being a musician sometimes, as well as a sound editor. Anyway, that’s something for the future.

19th June 2011

I sat ruminating on the various ways in which things have changed lately, particularly in regard to my music, how successful (or not) it is, and how I share it. Back around the time of Purlieu I was part of a few online music communities where many people shared their tracks, collaborated, worked on various remixes and generally enjoyed the whole process of sharing music with each other. This was one of the keys to the success of Purlieu upon its release, and its high sales. These days, there’s so much free music around that these kinds of places have little to no purpose anymore. My old haunt, the ArtistServer (ElectronicScene as it was at the time) forum is, like most music boards I read, plagued with continual ‘check out my new free release’ threads without any desire to engage with people. The whole online music world changed so drastically during my five year absence that I’ve not really managed to find a niche since returning a couple of years ago. Certainly the difference in sales and general interest between Since Every Hour Is Too Late and Purlieu is startling; this can be explained by both my lack of participation in relative music scenes, and the onslaught of music I’ve released lately – I’ll admit I wouldn’t be able to (or even want to) keep up with someone who’d released as much music as I have in the last 18 months, so I don’t blame people for giving up some time ago.

That said, it’s definitely given me food for thought and I realised I really do need to get involved in things more if I want people to recognise my music. I am hopefully going to work with different labels with my music in the future as I have neither the time nor money to distribute my music through Jerky Oats at the moment without the diminishing returns of late. The other thing I’ve realised is that live performance and getting involved with ‘scenes’ and such is an important factor. I’ve been sincerely worried about future live stuff as the direction I’m taking is much more towards the avant-garde, modern classical, experimental end of things, so the beat-laden synthfest of this year’s Awakenings show will be a long way away – but I’ve not had a clue how on Earth I’ll actually do it. Anyway, some reassurance from Lucy has given me more confidence, and I’ve begun putting a few ideas down for what I could do live. Ideally at some point in the future I’d like to take it away from a pure laptop thing, as I’m becoming increasingly interested in the use of acoustic sounds, but for the moment it’s a stripped back attempt, just using Ableton, but I’ve definitely come up with some interesting ideas which I’ll be expanding upon a lot in the coming months. I really would like to get some gigs next year and with a move closer to London on the horizon, I should be in a reasonable position to look for them!

Some titles which may be heading your direction next year… Talnoa, Sturmazdale, Upper & Lower Path.

5th May 2011

Initial sessions for the next album have come along nicely. It’s nice to be working with samples again, and as soon as I opened up Fruityloops (yes, I’m going full on retro) I reverted almost immediately to Purlieu mode, which is interesting. This won’t be quite the same in overall sound, but melodically I think there will be definite comparisons. The more sinister, jarring edge to that record is definitely present, along with some influences from serialism and other 20th atonal music. The nearest comparisons to my own music so far are Parin Onia from Purlieu and Cwn Annwn from Safernoc, I think.

In more pressing matters, I will soon be getting copies of Since Every Hour Is Too Late in the post. It’ll be nice to have that released, as with my recent working with strings and piano for forthcoming material it seems more fitting, and the initial sessions for the album were recorded in October 2009 – although it was only completed four months ago. Either way, it and its accompanying EP will be the last new Second Thought material for quite some time (until next year at least), and will mark the last material from the 2009-2010 sessions (other than the shelved album, anyway). So an important milestone there.

I finally bought that Kerkville album. It’s absolutely beautiful. I highly recommend it.

 

3rd March 2011

I have this unbeatable talent at stressing myself out, and at starting things with no real way of seeing them through. Lemony Nougat became a chore by the third release, I was so happy to see the end of it. I get this desire to work with musicians because I like their music, but end up offering releases out and suggesting a series of split CDr releases and all sorts, but realistically it was a silly idea and I’ve scrapped it. I’m spending too much time at the computer and on the internet at the moment anyway, the last thing I need is more reason to! I’m scaling down Jerky Oats for the foreseeable future – it originally started up as a way for me to release my own stuff on a whim/to keep control of my own releases, and to help friends out with their first release or two. I suggested, for example, that Jack release his album The Moment on the label instead of simply uploading it to last.fm, and then his Archive albums were a way of making his previous ten album back catalogue a little easier to navigate for those who’d discovered him through The Moment. Since then he’s moved on, had a successful release on Bump Foot and is now looking at possible physical distribution for his next album. This is what I wanted Jerky Oats to be – a way to help out some friends so when they start looking for labels and promoters and such they already have some releases behind them. Anyway, since then it’s begun to get bogged down with all sorts of stuff – none of it bad, of course, but just not what I wanted to do with the label. JOAT023 came out recently, and I already have up to JOAT033 lined up for release at some point, not to mention 10 and 18 which are still in the works. The last of those will be out next February! Twelve records is too much to upload/release and promote when I’m trying to get away from the computer and the internet. Stress stress stress. So yes, the five or six CDr splits have gone and releases after JOAT033 will be invite only special occasions! That, and the reworking of a future album last night have sorted things out in my head quite a lot. I really do have the next year sorted in my head and feel enormously happier.

In more pressing matters, the discography section of my site is now split into individual pages and has sound clips for each album. Moreso, Purlieu and Vacuum Road Songs are now available through Bandcamp, meaning your purchase will give you immediate download in the format of your choice, plus a CD in the post – at no increase in price. How’s that for a bargain?! Note: the last two songs on Vacuum Road Songs currently refuse to upload so that’s a pain in the arse.