The Deep Forest of Safernoc

Artist:  Second Thought

Title:  Safernoc

Released:  2011

Label:  FSOLdigital, Jerky Oats

Format:  MP3, CDr

Genre:  ambient, experimental, modern/neo classical

What better way to celebrate nearly 1100 page views than by scoping out the early 2011 release “Safernoc” by Second Thought?  I was quite surprised to find a message on my blog the other day, asking me to get in touch with the driving force behind the project (Ross Baker), and I was eager to do so.  As it turned out, he runs the “semi-official” FSOL forum that had so nicely posted a link here.  I recommend you visit there often.

(http://www.ilovecubus.co.uk/fsolboard/index.php )  I was also quite surprised by the sheer number of releases under Baker’s belt.  Second
Thought has been around a while, since 1999 in fact.  I know for some of us, that doesn’t feel like a long time, but it was twelve years ago.  There are many albums and EPs in his wake, many available as downloads and others on CDr (or both).   ST graciously sent me a copy of this album digitally and now, I pass on the goodness to you.

We start off with “Send Some Bees,” a track deep in the ambient realm with a simple distorted beat and enticing synth.  This is a great opening track; it pulls me in completely, though gently.  “Night Train” bursts into my ears with an angry hiss.  Distorted noise and tweaked synth dominate the first minute before soothing pads creep in to break things up.  It’s an interesting piece, somewhere between noise and ambient with the balance leaping from side to side.

Before long, we’re in “Berghest,” and things really seem to form here.  Strings and brilliant builds lead to a gentle glitch beat, creating an ancient landscape that might be being looking upon by the future.  It sends us more into the theme of the album, hinting at the myths and legends of the British Isles—many of the tracks are titled thusly.

“Marown Dhoo” is ambience and modern classical combined.  Piano and deep strings meet soft synth and a well hidden beat create a pristine and wondrous landscape.  It, I believe, is named after a river on the Isle of Man, and the certainly seems to come through here.

With a rushing pad, we’re off to the forest on track five.  Here, with a rapid beat, we’re in the heart of “Savermake.”  This is where the historical King of Limbs tree grows, which has been referenced numerous times elsewhere, including the cover of Radiohead’s newest album.  Before long, the music gives way to glass shattering and the baying of hounds, and the beat is on the run.  We’re chased into the next track, “Kelpie,” a slower but string-filled ambient gem. Shortly, we’re sent into the next track, where we cross paths with field recordings, haunting textured voices, frightening synth and backwards samples.  It’s dark and quite captivating.  After a while of being afraid to turn the lights off, a pulsing beat picks up and I’m tapping my toes.  Nice transition!  We’re now onto the track, “Moss.” Now here’s a track I would love to hear on vinyl.  A nice, simple beat carries us over a very ambient background and I can’t help but want to bob my head.  Very unlike the nature of moss and very enjoyable.

Witha distorted acidic breakbeat, we’re at a new “Vantage Point” keeping watch on the forest around us.  Historically, there are a few vantage points constructed in Safernoc forest, and I can imagine a time where they might have been in use when getting a feel of the energy of this track.  Not sure exactly what sort of organic sample is being used in the background on the track, but I am giving major points for originality with that one.  Again, here is a track that would be amazing on a pair of huge speakers—ambient mixing itself with acid, breakbeat and Orbital-esque trance and I have to say, the result is astounding.  Perfect.

And with a smooth transition, we’re onto track ten: “Timber Wolf.”  Strings are fed through the tubes to create a sort of 78rpm record feel… the crisp, lo-fi and ancient sounding audio makes for one very moving, almost haunting listen.  It’s probably one of my favorite pieces on the album for that reason; the production wizardry is inspiring for me.  Mix in some birds and other elements from the field and you’ve got a priceless modern classical piece.

We gently flow into the final two tracks of the album.  Classical entwines with a river of humming and fluttering ambience on “Aqueduct.”  Gorgeous piano echoes on the final track, “Baddgelest.”  It’s simple and beautiful, making a brilliant end to this superb album.

What I like about this aside from the music’s mix of genres is that Baker used many myths and legends from the area, many of which may not be widely known to most folks.  It gives a new depth to the music and really creates a thought provoking retelling of the tales of old.  For me, this is a fantastic album.

Should you buy this?  Ambient makes a great partner to modern classical, as we have seen on many releases, and here, the material is fresh, deep and brilliant.  If you enjoy ambience and the ever-evolving nature of it, this is definitely for you.  Even if you’re a casual listener in this field, you still should check this out; it is well worth it.  This release is available on FSOLdigital for a small price and an EP from this album is available from Second Thought’s webpage and Jerky Oats.  There are many other releases from Second Thought as well, including one on Treetrunk Records that’s becoming quite popular.  Take a look!

4.80 out of 5.

Coming soon: an interview with Second Thought.

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About Nick H.

I'm a geek for music whether it be on vinyl, CD, 78 or whatever. My goal is to sniff out the greated music on Earth, specializing in the obscure. I make music myself as well, mostly ambient and sound collage (1 album out and a few remixes so far). I work full time as a professional mascot (it pays the pills) but will soon retire, i hope.
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