British Sea Power - Man of Aran

The score itself isn’t a radical departure for British Sea Power, even going as far as to contain some reworkings of older tracks, but is nearly entirely instrumental, meaning that it seems unlikely to please some of the more casual fans of the band. As an accompaniment to the film however ‘Man of Aran’ is a pretty stunning piece of work.

Label: Rough Trade

Rating: 7

As ‘Man of Aran’ is not a conventional album it’s difficult to know where to begin when looking at this new British Sea Power release. The CD/DVD package contains on one disc the film ‘Man of Aran’, which was originally released in 1934 with a variety of soundtrack options, whilst the other simply contains the BSP score. The score itself isn’t a radical departure for British Sea Power, even going as far as to contain some reworkings of older tracks, but is nearly entirely instrumental, meaning that it seems unlikely to please some of the more casual fans of the band. As an accompaniment to the film however ‘Man of Aran’ is a pretty stunning piece of work.

As the film plays, the audio is entirely score, with no dialogue interrupting. Whilst this gives a chance for British Sea Power to shine it also makes the documentary harder to follow unless full concentration is given. Instead what comes across is more snippets of island life and the hardships that were faced. At times the score makes the film feel haunting and ethereal and there’s the sense that this is a glimpse into an entirely different age, and whilst at other times the pace is unrelenting and dramatic this can be seen as more of an artistic mood piece.

Highlights of the film are the section scored by the track ‘The Spearing of the Sunfish’, chronicling the islanders capturing of a basking shark (in order to provide oil for their lamps), the track beginning solely as a guitar drenched in reverb, before a marching drum beat kicks, gradually speeding the song up and giving it a sense of urgency. Elsewhere and unsurprisingly there’s a lot of footage of waves and the ocean and of the desolate expansive scenery, British Sea Power shine here, their music highlighting the waves and their destructive power.

Whilst, not what we’d describe as riveting ‘Man of Aran’ is a pleasing artistic project and proves the musical ability behind one of the best groups in the country. Fans of Sigur Ros may appreciate this almost ambient style and the cinematic qualities are undeniable. Rock music this isn’t but a lot of heart has been put into this release and if nothing else the new (11 minute long) instrumental version of ‘True Adventures’ (now called ‘It Comes Back Again’) is worth a listen.