Egghead electronica composer's second album, helped out by Coldplay, REM and Flaming Lips...
When David ‘Faultline’ Kosten first appeared on NME’s radar in 1999, it was immediately obvious that, as leftfield studio boffins go, he was one of the more colourful. Here was a man who turned to synthesisers after bursting a lung while playing clarinet for the National Youth Orchestra, and who responded to a death-threat, left on his ansaphone, by building it into one of his tracks.
Nonetheless, on the evidence of his widely-praised debut album for the esoteric Leaf label, ‘Closer Colder’, (a mixture of avant-garde classical music and electronica), Kosten looked destined for a career in the musical margins, all sound installations at the ICA and dense coverage in The Wire.
Few could have predicted that he would sign to Blanco Y Negro. Much less that he would set about crafting ‘Your Love Means Everything’, a very expensive-sounding record with big-name guests: Coldplay mainman Chris Martin, Michael Stipe and Flaming Lips‘ Wayne Coyne, to match. A record which, while a cerebral banker for Mercury Prize nomination, merges experimental sounds and simple, soulful melodies beautifully.
Unsurprisingly, ‘Your Love…’ is an easier listen than ‘Closer Colder’. Indeed, this follow-up only obviously begins to fray when Kosten takes it to extremes. ‘Missing’, a cold, doomy clatter of drums, comes across like a rather soulless DJ Shadow. Conversely, ‘Bitter Kiss’ sounds – despite newcomer Jacob Golden’s extraordinary vocal – like an experimental producer attempting something song-based, in a posh studio, and lapsing into blandness.
As the opener ‘Your Love…’ (xylophones/FX = ambient heaven) and the tender barrage ‘Lost Broadcast’ (featuring The Verve‘s Nick McCabe on guitar) show, Kosten can fly solo, and instrumental. But, his guests bring an acute human element to proceedings, and encourage him to pare back his tracks to the very essence of their drama.
Both Martin and Stipe are in towering form. Stipe’s ‘Greenfields’ is a ghostly Bavarian waltz, a guitar-led, 25th century folk-standard, while recent single ‘Where Is My Boy?’ and the mesmeric tear-jerker ‘Your Love…Part 2’, showcase Martin’s rich, intimate voice to truly show-stopping effect. Coyne’s ‘The Colossal Gray Sunshine’, meanwhile, sounds like The Beach Boys going slightly mad by a graveside. Which is great.
Flawed, but mighty, ‘Your Love…’ proves that truly innovative, challenging music can be warm, inclusive music too. It leaves the likes of UNKLE for dead, and provides plenty of food for thought for producers from Moby to Stefan ‘Pole’ Betke. Kosten, meanwhile, has probably already moved on. To a Hollywood soundtrack or, perhaps, a symphony for spoons.