Release Date: Jun 9, 2009
Record label: Rough Trade
Robert J. Flaherty is best known for his documentary Nanook of the North, which famously combined real ethnographic studies of the Inuit with staged dramatic sequences to create the first docufiction. Flaherty never repeated the success of Nanook, but he repeated the process with other cultures, from Samoa to the swamps of Louisiana. For Man of Aran, he studied the lifestyle of those living on the inhospitable Aran islands off the western coast of Ireland.
At a time when "I'm a Celebrity. . .
Man of Aran, a 1934 docu-drama that chronicled the difficult daily lives of the inhabitants of Western Ireland's remote Aran Islands, boasts all of the elements (wind, water, sky, and barren landscapes) that make a successful British Sea Power song, so it's no revelation that the band's soundtrack for the film fits like a pair of weather-beaten oars in a pair of equally ancient hands. The direct antithesis of 2008's stadium ready Do You Like Rock Music?, the largely instrumental Man of Aran (only the folksy "Come Wander with Me," a cover culled from an obscure 1964 Twilight Zone episode, features vocals) unfolds like a wave in the middle of the ocean with its sights set on a rocky shore. With the main melody of Rock Music's "The Great Skua" as its backbone, British Sea Power's penchant for slow-building post-rock vistas and reverb-drenched bursts of guitar, trumpet, and violin has reached its logical crescendo.
I have never found Brighton’s British Sea Power to be interesting at all. They began as one of dozens of vaguely nostalgic bands given a second look by labels in the wake of the Strokes/White Stripes anything retro-rock explosion of the early naughties. Their 2003 debut The Decline of… garnered them many comparisons to Joy Division and the Pixies, albeit a sober and unperturbed amalgam, with more angular riffs than you can cut your wrists to.