NEW MUSIC: Tindersticks Soundtrack ‘High Life’


Tindersticks and Stuart A. Staples are custom built for soundtrack work, such is their ability to conjure such exquisite and restrained mood and atmosphere, both musically and vocally. They’ve worked on a number of film projects in the past and this latest one by Staples is for the movie High Life, directed by Claire Denis – who Staples has worked with on seven of her other films. His soundtrack and sound design compositions on High Life earned him the George Delerue Award for Best Music at the Gent Film Festival.

Below you can watch the video for ‘Willow’, with lead vocal from actor Robert Pattinson, and listen to the instrumental piece ‘The Garden’ which rises and falls with dramatic tension and poise, a brooding cousin to late period Talk Talk experimentations with its droning bed and searching brass.

Most of the music for High Life was made before the filming. The conversation with Claire started maybe as far back as 2012. There were many ideas I wanted to explore and I appreciated the foresight of Claire and the producers in offering me support and encouragement to do this. As well as work with usual collaborators Dan McKinna, Neil Fraser and Earl Harvin, this afforded me purely experimental recording sessions with David Coulter, Thomas Bloch, David Okumu, Julian Siegel, Seb Rochford and the BBC singers. Several long sketches / pieces were created from these sessions that the eventual score was formed from or informed by. 

And then there was ‘Willow’. a seed of a song shared by myself and Dan Mckinna that eventually grew to be the conclusion of the High life with Robert Pattinson, the lead actor, singing the song in character to his daughter Willow, a theme that runs through the film.

~ Stuart A. Staples


ALBUM REVIEW: Stuart A. Staples – Arrhythmia


For Stuart Staples, he of the silken croon out front of UK moodists Tindersticks, it’s been 13 years since his last solo album, Leaving Songs. That record was comfortably in the same musical orbit as Tindersticks – baroque, jazz-informed and dramatic songs placed somewhere between latter day Talk Talk, Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen. In the intervening years he’s continued to work on film soundtracks which goes some way to to explaining the more cinematic and experimental scope of this new four track album.

‘A New Real’ opens the album with an echo-laden primitive drum machine and a dub bass line before that distinct low and nasally coo of a voice drifts into view, questioning the shape and form of love. Slowly unfurling at a heavy-lidded pace it suddenly blooms into cascading keys and strummed guitar, the mood quickly shifting from desolate melancholy to some kind of cautious optimism.

‘Memories Of Love’ surveys similar subject matter, this time looking at love as nostalgia. It’s in keeping with the album title Arrhythmia, in this case Staples sees irregular heartbeats as being at the mercy of the vagaries of love. The song rides on nothing more than a ride cymbal and sparse, resonant piano chords before bells and other percussive melodies permeate the song in the vein of Bjork’s textural explorations. ‘Step Into the Grey’ goes deep soul on a jazzed-out breakbeat as if the band Spain were playing R&B. Staples seems to be exploring the greyed out feeling of post-relationship despair before a restrained string-led avant freakout intervenes.

‘Music For ‘A Year In Small Paintings’’ is a 30 minute instrumental track that works like a short film as it traverses multiple moods (scenes) borne from the reactions of various musicians to 365 oil paintings of the sky by artist (and his wife) Suzanne Osborne. It takes on modern classical, ambient and jazz forms with wonderfully emotive and immersive results, making this album an intimate and evocative solo release from the enigmatic Staples.

Chris Familton


ALBUM REVIEW: Tindersticks – The Waiting Room


TRating8.5indersticks have traveled their own considered career trajectory with intermittent suspensions of activity and then a return to active duty, always with the same ear for detail in their nuanced and ornate, soulful baroque pop music.The Waiting Room is yet another excellent entry to their discography. It’s measured and draws on found sounds, field recordings, guest vocalists, jazz, post-rock, pastoral psychedelia and just the right amount of avant garde atmospherics. Stuart Staples’ voice is the crooning, crowning glory as always yet, essentially, the band provide the perfect cinematic backdrop for his poised and considered lyrics. The Waiting Room is easily the equal of their finest work.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Tindersticks – Hey Lucinda


Tindersticks rearranged my universe in a small way when I first heard their Simple Pleasure album in 1999. It was around the same time that I fell for Lambchop, Mogwai and various other bands that dealt in graceful musical moods and atmosphere. I’ve followed them ever since, getting that sense of anticipation at hearing that warm melancholic tone of Stuart Staples over his bandmates’ new songs when each new album was announced.

Here’s ‘Hey Lucinda’ the first taste of their new (10th) album via a video clip created by by Joe King & Rosie Pedlow and featuring the vocals of Lhasa De Sela who sadly passed away from breast cancer in 2010.

Their new album The Waiting Room will be available as a limited edition CD/DVD, LP/DVD and very limited clear vinyl LP/DVD, worldwide through City Slang on January 22, 2016.

NEWS: Tindersticks release new museum soundtrack Ypres

YPRES_CDIn late 2011 tindersticks were commissioned by the In Flanders Fields World War One museum in Ypres, Belgium to provide the soundscape for the new permanent exhibition being planned to commemorate the centenary of the Great War and beyond.

Ypres was the epicenter of the Western Front in The Great War and was virtually destroyed by the conflict. It has since been rebuilt to its original plans, finished only relatively recently. The museum is housed in the rebuilt cloth hall that stands in the centre of the town and was once the hub of the towns industry.

Hundreds of thousands died in Ypres and the surrounding area. Allied cemeteries and graves are everywhere. It is overwhelming. Though in keeping with the perspective of the new museum a need to bring the essence of the experience to a personal level felt crucial. To somehow loosen it away from the images we have all become accustomed to.

A deep connection and inspiration for the work was found in the quiet, dignified German memorial garden of Vladslo and Kathe Kollwitz’ famous ‘Grieving parents’ statue that resides there.

The work is an evolving soundtrack to the vistors journey through the exhibition. Its aim was to become the sound of the air within the museum, never to be over bearing. This journey is punctuated by private comtemplative spaces where the score was allowed to become more poetic.

Given that buildings are known to be highly individual, the spaces within them resonating differently, it was felt that the building itself resonated to the key of F. The starting point for the music became a musical cluster of E flat, F and F sharp. Stuart Staples and Dan McKinna worked closely together to compose the work.

Recording the score, with its ever variable bar lengths and being void of vibrato was a tense day, presided over by long time collaborator, orchestra leader: Lucy Wilkins. The orchestral recordings were made at the Church in Crouch End, London and were then taken back to Le Chien Chanceux studio in France to prepare for the installation.

A beautiful bank holiday weekend in May 2012 was spent meticulously building the soundscape for every individual space, for each step through the museum.

This music was never created to be a stereo image as the various components were mixed together in the individual spaces of the exhibition. A second wave of studio work yielded this version.

The music in the museum itself loops seamlessly all day, everyday. It is music without a beginning , middle or end.

OPINION: SCOTT WALKER – 30th Century Man

I watched the documentary of 30th Century Man on the weekend with little prior knowledge of Scott Walker and his history.  I came away having discovered a new artist, someone with a constantly evolving body of work a refreshing disregard for the mainstream.

I highly recommend checking out this film if you are at all interested in the avantgarde and experimental nature of contemporary music. It features comments from a long list of musicians such as Bowie, Jarvis Cocker, Radiohead, Eno and Marc Almond and covers his career from The Walker Brothers in the 60’s through his leaner years and his more abstract works of the last decade.  For fans of Tindersticks, David Sylvian, Shearwater and Tim Buckley.

Here is the trailer for 30th Century Man: