Release Date: Oct 20, 2014
Record label: Lucky Dog Recordings
Genre(s): Classical, Avant-Garde, Pop/Rock, Soundtracks, Stage & Screen, Modern Composition, Original Score, Miscellaneous (Classical)
Ypres marks the first time Tindersticks have composed, recorded, and released a score that accompanies an installation rather than a film soundtrack. In 2011 they were approached by the Flanders Fields Museum in Belgium to create a single work that would provide the lone soundscape for its opening and permanent exhibition. The town of Ypres was at the heart of the European battle in the First World War, and the stage on which hundreds of thousands of lives were lost.
Ypres is an album that suspends sound in a state of perpetual motion, never finding a natural start or end point. It was designed that way—in the notes accompanying its release, Tindersticks point out how it’s intended to loop all day without ever finding a place of rest. The record is unique in the band’s canon, although it sometimes brushes close to their soundtrack work for French director Claire Denis.
Much like Billy Corgan and his ever-revolving Smashing Pumpkins, or Trent Reznor's moniker-slash-band-name, the Tindersticks title belongs to Stuart Staples, and he's used it reflexively over the years to support another career interest: Since the early '90s, he's been the go-to musical collaborator of acclaimed French filmmaker Claire Denis, and through that lens his music has taken on an almost ghost-in-the-machine variation of itself. There's the light cocktail jazz score for 1996's Nenette et Boni, the austere neo-classical sounds of 2001's Trouble Every Day, and the industrial sturm und drang of last year's Bastards. These projects have given Staples and whomever he chooses to include under the Tindersticks banner at any given time a chance to show a more compositionally focused side.
I have always been drawn to the music of Tindersticks and been deeply affected by war memorials; beyond that and a certain mournfulness, the two would seem to have little else in common. Even so, I was not completely surprised that Stuart Staples, Tindersticks front man, should also be fascinated by these sad monuments; the alphabetical records that adorn them proof that death in war merits recording in a way that most other ways of dying do not. Commissioned by the In Flanders World War One museum in Ypres, to create a permanent orchestral soundscape to be played continually through the museum every day without interruption, Ypres can be best understood as an aural memorial without walls to the hundreds of thousands who died during the two battles for the town, now known as Ieper.