British Sea Power & Man of Aran

British Sea Power - Man of Aran

Brighton’s own British Sea Power, perhaps better known for their sweeping, sometimes raucous indie pop, have joined the ranks of other indie artists (Sigur Ros, Karen O, Jonny Greenwood, Arcade Fire, etc.) and scored a film.

So what makes this soundtrack different and original and worth a damn (or at least a serious listen)? Well, for one, the film in question is not a new film at all, but the 1934 mockumentary Man of Aran, directed by documentary pioneer Robert J. Flaherty.

Second, the album is stunningly beautiful, and one of the great surprises of 2009 as I have not formerly been a religious fan of British Sea Power.

The band were asked to create a score for the film’s 2009 DVD re-release, which isn’t a surprise considering their infatuation with chamber orchestral sonicscapes in many of their songs. I have had the pleasure of listening to the score in full (albeit not against picture, that will have to wait until this fall, when the DVD drops), and I have to say it is one of the most dark, murky, and gorgeous soundtracks of recent memory.

When listening to the album, I feel like I am lost at sea in a haunted dreamscape of ice and fog (created by my own breath) while giant sharks circle my frozen, yawing dinghy. This album has nothing in common with Neil Young’s work on Dead Man, but I have to say there are similarities in the way both have used space and emptiness to create unease and subsequent tension and release. There is also a post-rock quality to some of the later tracks which conjure up the arrangements of Explosions in the Sky and Grails.

I wish I could witness British Sea Power performing their score to the film itself next Thursday at the London screening of the film. If anybody has the good fortune to experience it, pray share afterward.

I will leave you with a track I’ve fallen in love with ever since Koen Mortier reprised it in his RVS insurance spot a couple of years back. The ‘Power have reimagined “Come Wander With Me”, a song originally from an episode of The Twilight Zone (written by Jeff Alexander, performed by Bonnie Beecher), but also has appeared in Vincent Gallo’s Brown Bunny, as well as having been covered by our second favorite Frenchies Air).

The ‘Power’s version include hauntingly beautiful use of cello and distant brass, funereal brush kit rhythms, and dirge-like layered vocals. What’s not to love? Oh, and is that Victoria Legrand of Beach House singing? I wonder…

Wander With Me

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