Stuart A. Staples - Arrhythmia - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Stuart A. Staples - Arrhythmia

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2018-06-08
Stuart A. Staples - Arrhythmia
Stuart A. Staples - Arrhythmia

If there is currently a musical perfectionist, Stuart A. Staples, the Tindersticks main guy doubling as a solo artist, is certainly one of them. Back in the late 90s when The Hague’s Crossing Border Festival was at its height, Staples surely manifested his strive for perfection. Throughout the band’s show, he kept on hailing the sound man with what was to be highlighted and what not, only at one moment to get so pissed off, to drop his mic on the stage and leave the podium not to return. He did have a guilty conscience towards the audience, so he and the band returned a year or so later to give an astounding performance.

That search for perfection might be one of the reasons it took him 13 years to come up with Arrhythmia, his second solo album, and as with his previous one and everything else he has done with Tindersticks, he is always mightily close to his goals, probably only to realise nothing is quite perfect. A good enough reason to try it all over again.

To that effect, there’s enough music on Arrhythmia that does get quite close to perfect. “A New Deal” that starts off the album is ‘staple’ Staples, with or without Tindersticks, this time around with some quite audible electronic beats/drumming which coupled with Staples’ vocals could be dubbed as ‘quiet disco’. “Memories of Love” is that truly exceptional music piece here. Starting off just with the electric piano, Staples’ solo voice and a lot of silence in between and then switching into an instrumental piece with only a glockenspiel and electric piano, all so hushed that it is not something for the middle, but something that would sound like a shriek in the dead of the night. This has previously only been achieved by another duo of perfectionists, Scott Walker and Mark Hollis on his sole solo album away from Talk Talk.

“Step Into The Grey” is exactly that - starting off as something you might call a ‘regular’ staples music piece, it turns into a set of almost dissonant string music, yet another step in the direction Scott Walker started off with his “Climate of Hunter”.

The confirmation comes in what seems to be intended as the album’s centrepiece, the 30 minutes long “Music For ‘A Year In Small Paintings’ where 365 daily paintings by his partner Suzanne Osborne were turned into a documentary film. Staples prepared the piece out of the musical snippets from the sequences that were presented at various exhibitions of the piece. Here he goes into the territory of ambient/post-rock specialists like Labradford and Stars of The Lid with a matching quality effort that stands alone even if you didn’t have a chance to see the paintings (I didn’t).

So an accomplished and intriguing effort from Staples which at times reaches his struggle for perfection. Hopefully, it will not take him another 13 years to come up with the next one.

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