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!

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.

23rd May 2011

It is with a mixture of sadness and relief that I have to announce the end of Second Thought at the end of 2011. This has been something I’ve wanted to say for a bit now, I was going to keep it quiet for longer but decided that it’s better to get it over and done with (also, I’m the least patient person ever, as anybody who knows me will tell you). There are several reasons for this, the first being I REALLY HATE THE NAME SECOND THOUGHT. I haven’t actually liked the name since around the time of Purlieu, but for one reason another, I kept it – largely to make a name for myself and so people remember me. However, after the last couple of years, the name doesn’t really mean anything anymore. A person coming to my music for the first time might imagine Second Thought as a dark ambient/drone project, or a modern classical one, or a harsh noise, or ambient, or dub techno, or even lo-fi indie project. The array of releases has put to rest any idea of an image or brand around the name, so it made me wonder why I would keep a name I don’t even like… Also, I do really love a big clear out and a chance to start again.

A few bits and bobs have changed recently, so it’s probably best to ignore my ‘no more music until next year’ promises, ha. I will be releasing one more full album as Second Thought, called Leaf Pass, which will be out in the autumn. It’s sort of a ‘return to Purlieu’ affair, containing some new material and a number of Purlieu era tracks which have been reworked, remixed and updated. I was planning on having it out in the future, but it works so nicely as a closing album as it ties up nicely with my first album, so I’ve decided to put it out this year instead.

At the end of the year there will be no more Second Thought and I will continue to work under my own name.

15th May 2011

Since Every Hour Is Too Late is available to pre-order – an immediate download as of now! I’m hoping to get the discs out on or before the 1st June release date. This is an exciting and relieving time for me. I’m very proud to get this album out, as it’s got some of my favourite work of mine on, and also it marks the end of a run of releases which has been almost non-stop since November 2009. The first track for the album was composed shortly after Safernoc was completed, back in October 2009, when I still lived in Manchester. Since then I’ve moved four times, scrapped a lot of recordings, finished four different mixes of this album and been through a lot of personal things – but come out of it in one piece and have this album to show for it. It breaks the pattern of my previous soundscape albums, containing individual tracks which each tell their own story. It is certainly my most melodic album to date, and the most personal, and probably the most sad sounding. I had a number of personal crises which led to the composition of some of the material here. Other pieces are portraits of birds I recorded for my fianceé, without whom I would not have got through this time. More than this, the album is the achievement of a long term goal. Many years ago, I was walking in Wales with my friend on a camping holiday, and the landscape, with some ruined buildings, inspired me to plan out an album of pieces for piano and strings that would reflect the ancient landscape. It was due to be my fourth album following Dead Hymns, themeatically acting as a spiritual reawakening after the trip through hell. This album might not have that conceptual wholeness which I over-planned, but it is an album of mostly string and piano arrangements, it is my fourth record, and it is in many ways a soundtrack to a time of readjustment and dealing with life. It might not have been quite the landscape record I imagined seven years ago, but it certainly is the melodic, modern classical album I wanted to record.

I’ve been working more on new material, which is definitely continuing with the classical theme, but that won’t be out for some time yet. After a barrage of material lately, this is the last new stuff I’ll be putting out until next year – it’ll be nice to get back to one or two albums a year. This album marks the end of a series of albums, and the end of a continuous run of releases (other than the outtakes split EP which will accompany it on 1st June, of course). I think May acts as the perfect closer to this era for me. Thank you to everybody who’s listened over all this time, and I hope you enjoy the album. 🙂

 

6th April 2011

If anything’s going to get me in the mood for making sample-based music, it’s the incredible research that appears midway down this thread. FSOL’s music becomes more dense and layered every time I listen to it. What amazes me is that the process – if not the attention to detail – is how I used to make music until the last few tracks I completed for Vacuum Road Songs, and purely by coincidence. I am going to begin collecting samples soon I think. Hopefully Since Every Hour will be out in the next couple of months and then I can move on to tentatively starting composing again in the summer.

1st April 2011

After a lot of consideration, I have decided that now is not the right time to release Aeolian Landform. This blog must get quite tedious with its constant ‘New album! Wait, no, actually, I’m not going to release it’ contradictions, I suppose it would be more sensible to say nothing about a release until it’s concrete and finalised. Either way, I just don’t feel comfortable releasing the album this year. With the direction I’m going to be taking in the future, and the releases of Safernoc and Since Every Hour Is Too Late, it feels very out of place and not at all representative of who I am as a person and a ‘musician’. Maybe it’ll re-appear one day in the future, or under a different name. I’d like to think so, as it is rather good.

I have been enjoying some slightly more avant-garde sounds lately. Nothing too far out (I did listen to Markus Schmickler’s Sator Rotas earlier, but it didn’t sit right with me at all), but the sample and field-recording manipulations of Xedh, Mystified, Christopher Bissonnette and M.Rosner have been ticking the right boxes since I’ve been in Brighton. I also really, really want to get ahold of Kerkville’s ‘Days’ album – but I suppose that must wait until I have money!

Since Every Hour Is Too Late news soon!

27th March 2011

This afternoon, I completed two pieces for a compilation album coming about later this year, based on scenes from imaginary films – the album is inspired by Eno’s Music For Films albums. I have decided the two short pieces will be the last Second Thought tracks I create using softsynths or Reason. It’s a nice way to finish off, as I’ve created two lovely tracks. Also, I may use synths if asked to do more soundtrack work in the future, so this leads nicely into that, leaving Second Thought to head back to the sounds and samples world again. Ideally I’d like to create something that straddles the border between experimental sound art and accessible electronic music. I suppose Purlieu comes into play there again. Either way, this is all a long way in the future, as you still have two VST/Reason created albums on their way first.

The reason I’ve decided to make this definitive turning point now is that Lucy and I are moving to a new city and hopefully things will start getting better with my life. That’s as good a time as any to change, especially when the ‘improvising with synths’ direction really does remind me of some darker times in the last twelve months. So, a new start, and a return to Second Thought as it should be. All good!

23rd March 2011

A quick change to update the ‘future of Second Thought’ position, as I feel like clarifying some stuff and getting some info out there! The follow-up to Safernoc situation is a bit confusing, after much assessment and re-arrangement of music. Either way, the album has two follow-ups, sort of. The first is Since Every Hour Is Too Late, the collection of works for strings, piano and synth which follow on from the neo-classical moments on Safernoc. That was due out in August, but will hopefully be out sooner – some time in the summer. The other record expands on the sounds introduced on Send More Bees, Night Train, Savernake, Moss and Aqueduct; the first half is ‘ambient dub’, and the second half focuses on synth work and Berlin School sequences. That will be out before the end of the year (I’m hoping September/October). They will both be on CDr + download format through Bandcamp.

Why say all this now and why get them out so soon? Some recent listening and experiences have given me chance to assess my music in a more considered way than I have before. In particular, I had the closest, most in depth listen to Lifeforms that I’ve had in years, and was staggered at how well the mixture of samples and synths works on that album. On top of that, there’s this from my friend Themis’s label Triple Bath. The piece comes entirely from guitar. Lastly, some trawling through my old work for various reasons has really shown the difference in my older, sample-based work and the very synthetic textures of Aeolian Landform. Much as I am proud of the album, it feels less personal and individual to me, and I really want to get back to working with audio, taking acoustic sounds, editing, filtering and changing them and making my own music from that. There’s also been a lot of emphasis on composition and performance lately, and I genuinely miss working with loops and samples in the way I used to. So once I start composing again, later in the year, I’ll be doing that again – starting from scratch, with new software to learn and a whole new range of samples to mess around with. In the meantime, I’d like to get these records all packaged up and out of the way, while letting everybody get the chance to hear them. Also, one potential show in July aside, any future live sets will probably be quite different in style to the dancey synth fest of my last couple (and the improv that will be heard some time in the future). I’ve had a lot of fun with synths, dance music and such lately, but I think it’s about time to get back to forging my own sound again.

Music I’m listening to and would recommend you listen to:

Roddy Woomble – The Impossible Song and Other Songs
4m33s – Time
Somnarium – Frost
Wire – Red Barked Trees
The Future Sound of London – Lifeforms

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.

26th February 2011

Safernoc CDr release is officially ‘available’ – some promo copies, some for friends and some will be available from live shows in the future. With that, the Safernoc era is finally over, and what better way to mark the occasion than by revealing the artwork and tracklist for the next album! This one was half complete at the start of 2010 and has been touched up over time since then.

Since Every Hour Is Too Late

The Day You Left
Birdsongs for Lucy, I: Magpie
Birdsongs for Lucy, II: Goosander
Birdsongs for Lucy, III: Tawny Owl
Burbage Park, for Dad
Peter Pig
Glebe Road, 1998. Rain
Untitled for four pianos
Birdsongs for Lucy, IV: Stonechat
Mip and Bella, for Mum
May

This is a more personal album than before, as is obvious from the song titles alone. The album expands upon the neo-classical piano/string elements of Safernoc, with the album’s overall palette being little more than piano, strings and subdued synths, plus the occasional sample and field recording. The album features more strict compositions and less improvised pieces than any of my previous work too. The mood of the record is one of a hazy, wistful nostalgia; my dad’s photography of places close to my home town adds to this feeling, and many of the titles refer to aspects of my childhood, along with a series of pieces inspired by birds I wrote for my fiancée.

The record should be out in the summer, all being well, but I’ll post more news on that nearer the time. It feels good to be finally moving on to this album! Also, 60° South is finally in the albums section, in ‘fifth album’ position. Although some tweaks were made on Since Every Hour Is Too Late after 60° South’s release, it was conceived and mostly recorded before that album. 60° South actually expands on the synth ideas put forward on Since Every Hour Is Too Late, and is a very suitable bridge between that and what should follow it. But no more on that just yet!