Album review: British Sea Power
Man Of Aran
Remember that old 1930s fictitious documentary Man Of Aran that follows a family’s daily struggles to survive on the forbidding Aran Islands? Nah, me neither, but trust the pioneering nautical juggernaut that is BSP to stumble upon it and think it worthy of a new soundtrack. Stunning black-and-white shots of a foreboding sky, vertiginous cliffs and a treacherous sea are interspersed with that of a heroic yet slightly farcical family (check out their fantastically giant bobbled berets) slipping on rocks and being slapped by waves, while tirelessly hunting basking sharks with spears and trying to grow potatoes on bare rock.
Aurally transporting you into this bleak and bizarre netherworld is a predominantly instrumental BSP,
who seem to have found their perfect emotional parallel in the stark landscape and crashing waves – strings swirl like a building storm, gentle scraps of white noise hiss like the wind and drums rumble like distant thunder. On standout track ‘Come Wander With Me’, heart-wrenching violins unfurl to reveal dense, dreamy rhythms, hushed funereal horns and layers of ghostly, choral vocals reminiscent of Grizzly Bear’s ‘Marla’. There’s a palpable vastness and a hushed reverence to the album that allows tracks time to simmer and smoke before they fire. The pace builds slowly like a wave, from the uplifting waltzing rhythms of ‘The Currach’, through the starry guitar epic ‘Boy Vertiginous’, on to the 12-minute My Bloody Valentine-style freak-out of ‘Spearing The Fish’, before crashing back down to its former languorous pace. This isn’t an album you can dip into; instead dive in and sink to the bottom and let it all gloriously wash over you.