First posted on echoesanddust.com.
Alternative rock-band Tindersticks see the release of their haunting soundtrack ‘Ypres’, written for the permanent exhibition at the Flanders Field World War One Museum in Ypres, Belgium. The soundtrack sees Tindersticks employing a number of interesting techniques and styles to best suit the creation of music that is fitting for the museum and its exhibition, resulting in what comes across as an incredibly harrowing and dark album experience that very fittingly occupies the background. The whole album experience demonstrates wonderful craft to music, though the whole experience fits a rather niche category, and thus elements of the album don’t seem to work so well outside of the museum.
‘Ypres’ is largely an orchestral album experience, utilizing string instruments to great effect to create musical tones and motifs that best evoke the World War One setting the album is attempting to portray. Musically, ‘Ypres’ departs very much so from previous Tindersticks albums, featuring much of their superb craftsmanship to music, but done in a wholly different way to what we might expect from the band. There’s an ominous sensation to some of the music, though there’s also a somewhat lulling quality to most of the album as well, allowing for it to act as a perfect soundtrack to the museum installation.
Whilst there’s many merits to ‘Ypres’, which certainly shows another side to Tindersticks’s creativity and compositional skills, it seems that this is perhaps an instance where the album experience doesn’t exactly work as well as it should do. All the technical elements within the music itself are there, and are expressed wonderfully, but this does feel like an album where there’s not much room for it to be enjoyed out of context. One could perhaps stick on this album and let it occupy the background, though the rather dark and depressing nature of the music doesn’t make this seem like all that much of a viable option.
There’s a fair amount to enjoy on ‘Ypres’, which is certainly an album experience that achieves what it has set out to do, though as an album there’s a somewhat flawed element running throughout, making it a difficult listen to really get involved with. It’s perhaps an instance where it’s a little too hard to separate the soundtrack from its original context, and thus makes it difficult to enjoy within its own right. This is perhaps an album that will only appeal to die-hard fans of Tindersticks, hungry to have every official release of theirs, and whilst it does offer something incredibly beautiful, it is hardly the best work from the band.
- ★★★☆☆ 3/5
- Whispering Guns Parts 1, 2 and 3
- Gueules Cassées
- Sunset Glow
- The Third Battle of Ypres
Tindersticks’ soundtrack ‘Ypres’ is out now.