Friendships don’t always result in brilliant records. In fact, sometimes the very fact that friends are involved means that it becomes more difficult to be critical and creative. I have known many friendships that have dwindled because of musical differences. It’s silly, but it’s true. Richard Knox and Frédéric D. Oberland are members of Glissando and Farewell Poetry respectively. This collaboration was built out of a friendship formed when the pair toured together. Not only did it lead to a friendship but for Farewell Poetry a record deal with Gizeh and then of course this wonderful, wonderful record.
The pair set themselves the task of imagining “a musical passage through the North Pole explorer diaries”, to navigate “a polar journey to the ends of the earth through the arctic sea.” Knowing this sets you up nicely for what is to follow as Knox and Oberland guide us through a range of emotions befitting of those men who have tried, succeeded and failed to conquer the frozen wastelands of the Arctic Circle. The way the whole story is communicated using gorgeous strings, emotive electric guitars and piano and subtle samples/field recordinngs is, at times, spell binding.
As a geek who has watched many short films and documentaries on the trials and tribulations of such men as Shackleton and Scott (as well as being from Dundee where the Discovery began it’s voyage and now sits proudly in the docks) this record captures beautifully the hope, courage, despair and joy that must surely accompany such a journey from beginning to end, regardless of how that journey ends. Many tried and failed. Shackleton gave up to protect the lives of his men. Scott and his men perished on their way back from the pole. And Knox and Oberland manage to convey the emotions of such a voyage, through the highs and the lows, in a stunning way.
Much of the recording of this record was done in a church in Leeds, which only adds to the depth of sound on offer. Hopefully this will not be the only record that the pair release. Sometimes friendships and music do go hand in hand. Sometimes, as in this case, they produce something quite magnificent. This one is definitely one to be bought and enjoyed on vinyl I reckon.
For more information on The Rustle of the Stars you can go here. Enjoy.