Lara C Cory reviews a new, seaside-centric record from Tindersticks’ David Boulter, out today on Clay Pipe Music.
As a relatively recent resident of Britain, I’ve only ever been to seaside a handful of times, and yet, David Boulter’s love letter to childhood summers spent at Great Yarmouth resonates with me deeply. While my connection to Boulter’s debut solo isn’t the same as someone who has actually used a windbreak before, it highlights the strength of mood he has created.
As a founding member of Tindersticks, it’s not surprising that Yarmouth possesses an abundance of the romance and charm that was so beloved of the band’s music. Boulter has a genuine appreciation of the transporting qualities inherent in the music of film and television, and with his added experience as a frequent collaborator with French film maker Claire Denis, brings a natural sense of narrative to the Clay Pipe Music release.
From the simple phrasing to the choice of instrumentation, most notably the flute and guitar, Yarmouth borrows a quality peculiar to the folk horror tradition of the 60s/70s. Several tracks reflect Mark Wilkinson’s bucolic score to Blood on Satan’s Claw, with hints of the more urbane jazz style of Krzysztof Komeda’s Rosemary’s Baby. On ‘The Flower Clock’ Boulter weaves yet another thread into the nostalgic texture with a 1970’s Lowrey organ and distorted theremin, similar to the rippled whimsy of Japanese composer and space music pioneer Isao Timita, and then with ‘Marine Parade’ he seems to be drawing from darker wells, where the vibraphone and a shift in tonality brings to mind Angelo Badalmenti’s Twin Peaks score and the shadowy jazz of Bohren & der Club of Gore.
Yarmouth feels like a soundtrack, but never suffers from the problem that so many instrumental albums face, which can result in an inexplicably hollow or contrived experience. On the contrary, Boulter skilfully leads the listener on a gentle trip, which could be the seaside or another time and place that resonates with you. Indeed, it’s the transferable nature of the music, creating — like all good soundtracks — a diaphanous filter for the senses, which reveals, once again, the scope of Boulter’s musicianship.
Yarmouth is beautifully balanced throughout, both compositionally and instrumentally; always just the right amount of thematic development, melody and arrangement. While you listen to this album, the view from any window will feel special and with Frances Castle’s pitch-perfect artwork, the view of the cover will feel equally evocative.
‘Yarmouth’ is out now, both digitally and physically. Whilst the initial run of vinyl has sold out, a repress is imminent. More info here.