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!

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.

19th February 2011

So, the remix album is complete, and you can find the full tracklist in the discography section. It’s nice to finally have this finished, some of the remixes date right back to the ‘Vacuum Road Songs remix album’ era circa 2004/2005, and many of them have been sitting around for the best part of a year in these parts. I’m going to send it out to a couple of labels pretty soon so I can get it out there and move on to pastures new. I’ll keep you updated!

12th February 2011

Thank you to everybody who’s bought Safernoc – or tried to! The FSOLDigital store has thrown up a couple of glitches, but please do use the contact form if you have problems. The reaction to the album reminds me of when I released Purlieu, and it’s great to know that people are interested and willing to fork out a few pounds for the record. A reminder of how decent people are.

Now, I make no apologies for moving on from this record very quickly as I’ve been talking about it for over a year (“Safernoc news very soon” was promised in November 2009!). There are more updates regarding the album coming in the future, but that’s very much additional stuff rather than the album itself and aren’t too important. What’s important to me at the moment is the next album, but I’m not here to talk about that just yet. Before that comes out, I need to clear the vaults of other things that were completed before then – i.e. the remix collection and live EP which have just been added to the discography. The remix collection harks back, originally, to 2004 when I asked people to remix tracks from Vacuum Road Songs for the album’s accompanying remix collection, Songs of the Emptying Race. More recently, I asked artists and friends whose work I enjoy to remix more tracks, and a double disc collection has come together. It’ll just be an mp3 release, but formatted so it fits onto two CDs for anyone who wants to burn the album to disc. The album has retained the title Songs of the Emptying Race. I’m currently finalising the track order and release details, which will be up in the discography soon – in the meantime, a tiny thumbnail of the cover is there. A million points to the person who can say what it is. After the success of my Awakenings performance, I’ve decided I want to release more of my live work, so following on from the Awakenings 2005 mp3 release, a live, in-studio performance from last December will be out on Jerky Oats, with artwork to match that former release. When I was rehearsing for last week’s performance, I initially drew up ideas for a 40 minute synth-based set, which I then scrapped due to finding it less enjoyable to play than the more rythmic set I eventually decided on. I did one final performance of the piece via the internet to a few friends, and that you will find on the EP. It’s mostly synth stuff, largely from 60° South, with a 60° South-esque interpretation of Fences, and a more faithful version of Aqueduct to the one performed at Awakenings. The version of Degrees seemed particularly icy to me and, being so utterly different to the album version, eventually became Part 2 of the Christmas EP.

These are planned for a March release. Then all of that’s behind me and I can steam on with album #4 – I’ll reveal more news about that in a coming entry.

17th February 2009

Re-arrival. Second Thought is back! It’s been three years since the last new material (Rooftops), and all has been quiet, apart from the somewhat subdued Vacuum Road Songs release (those reviews will be turning up this year, honest!). What’s been happening? And why?

Well, first up, there was Dead Hymns. Those familiar with the concepts behind Purlieu and Vacuum Road Songs will be aware that there were two more albums that followed the ‘story’, to be called Dead Hymns (continuing from the passing out at the end of VRS and travelling through one’s own personal hell…) and Crib Goch (… to reawakening and peace). Then I realised things were just getting FAR too literal. Vacuum Road Songs itself seemed to be stooped too much in story for my liking, in hindsight – it hangs together more awkwardly as an album, with short seguing environments linking otherwise unrelated tracks or chapters or whatever. Elsewhere in my life, I’ll be honest, I’m not especially happy. It’s the jolly world of post-university bullshit, with nothing really going quite to plan. I need to make music that makes me happy, not 60 minute noisescapes with horror film soundtrack strings, distortion, screaming, guitar solos, industrial grinding and other fucked up mess. Dead Hymns is on hold indefinitely. I don’t want to become a prog rock star, so I’m just carrying on producing without the need for continuity and story.

And so, Second Thought album 3 mk ii begins. Armed with inspiration from recent new FSOL material, a shedload of new influences to really get into and lovely new visions and ideas, I’m recording again. No searching through old tracks to find material of worth, no leaving tracks out because they don’t fully fit the concept of the album, just making good music. The album is going to fit together nicely with some atmospheric bits and artwork and allsorts, but it’s just going to be a lot more fun to make.

The first track is called Savernake. It’s very techno. It can be found here. I like it. I hope you do too. There’ll be more journal entries soon.

Top five albums of recent times:

Underworld – Oblivion With Bells
Hell Is For Heroes – Hell Is For Heroes
The Future Sound of London – Environments II
Norma Jean – Redeemer
Goldmund – Cordorouy Road


5th February 2008

After much titting about, Vacuum Road Songs will be available from May, internationally. That’s right, those of you not lucky enough to catch the pre-release last year will be able to pick up a copy properly from May. Thank God that’s over. Hopefully there’ll be some nice reviews here and there soon.

I’ve taken another long break from the music recently, but am very much back on track with it now. You’ll probably notice a little section on the new site called Dead Hymns, which is pretty empty but should have some clues to what’s going to happen in the future. Not to jump too ahead of the game, of course, but it’s nice to have stuff to look forward to. Stephen and mine’s band collapsed some time ago and I’m not as interested in pursuing that line of music just at the minute anyway. You can listen to some of his solo music here, though, and you should as it’s excellent.

I hope everyone likes the new design on the website. It too has been a long time coming. There’s lots of new stuff to discover so take a look around.

In six months time I may be living in London. This should open up some new routes for me, personally and musically. On a similar note, I’m now writing for Sandman Magazine in Leeds, my first review should be in the March issue. I’ll keep everyone informed of that, anyway.

Music I’ve been enjoying lately that you should check out:

Murcof – Cosmos
Goldmund – Corduroy Road
Encomiast – Espera
Logreybeam – It’s All Just Another Aspect Of Mannerism
Nurse With Wound – Thunder Perfect Mind
Simian Mobile Disco – Attack Decay Release Sustain
Erik Satie – Piano Works
The Divine Comedy – A Short Album About Love