Monday, December 14, 2009

The Decade in Music #8: Beth Gibbons & Rustin' Man, Out of Season

The second half of 2002 was spent in the unexpectedly not-at-all unpleasant surroundings of Walthamstow Village. In one memorable day in August, I had moved all my worldly possessions from N16 to a new place in E17 and then, after nothing more stimulating than a brew with new flatchap Will, I went back into town for B's memorable stagdo in Shoreditch. It was a busy day.

When I think of this time, the music I hear, rather incongrously, is the supremely melancholic Out Of Season by Beth Gibbons and Rustin' Man.

It just so happened that Will, who's now head of press at EMI, was friends with Mr Paul Webb (aka Rustin' Man), a member of the cherished Talk Talk, and he (Will) would come home from what sounded like jolly hunting trips in the country, excitedly chattering about a new record which he claimed was going to be "the greatest record ever made". Should it need saying that that's exactly the sort of hype to put me off for life? So when I finally heard the record, I naturally loved "Mysteries" and "Tom the Model" but I largely ignored the rest of the album, thinking it was barely-there and wintry, too sketched, too skeletal.

But Lee! Don't you love music with those qualities? Yes, and that sound you here is me slapping my forehead repeatedly. Out of Season uncannily effectively splits the difference between late Talk Talk, Nick Drake and Portishead. It frontloads the aforementioned songs and keeps its real secrets for those who can get past the big numbers. Hunker down the record and you're rewarded with little gems that make "Tom the Model" seem like a gauche barn-burner: mournful torch songs ("Romance"); the sort of fire-lit folk that Goldfrapp hinted at on their last album ("Drake").

Buy Out of Season [UK/US]