Review : Tindersticks - Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009
Pitchfork"Cinematic" is a difficult adjective to avoid when discussing the music of Tindersticks. The band's moodiness, use of orchestration, and tendency toward restraint punctuated by brief moments of overload all lend their music a film-like quality. Some of their songs even feel like short movies, telling stories not just through lyrics, but also through the motion of the music. The Nottingham, England, band isn't well-known in the United States, and probably won't ever be. Something about them scans as very European, their casual blend of jazz, lounge, soul, rock, and noise conjuring the intellect, elegance, and lurking seediness of café society. The cinema in their sound is more art house than blockbuster.
That their music blends well with the vision of French filmmaker Claire Denis is not very surprising. Denis has a visual style that likes to breathe, featuring lots of wide shots and a patient way of framing her subjects. Denis was born in Paris but grew up for much of her childhood in Colonial Africa, spending time in Burkina Faso, Somalia, Senegal, and Cameroon. Her films, including Chocolat, Beau Travail, 35 Rhums and White Material, often deal with the intersection of European and African culture and interests, centering on French characters born in Africa or Europeans living in former colonies. Tindersticks have scored six of her 10 features, including the last five, and those six scores are collected on this boxed set.
Only two, 1996's Nénette Et Boni and 2001's Trouble Every Day, have been released on CD before. Nénette Et Boni was the band's first foray into soundtrack work. The band met Denis backstage after a show in Paris, and she asked if she could use "My Sister", a song from the band's second album, in her next film. The band instead offered to do an original score. Rather that producing specific, timed cues as most modern film composers do, the band worked more the way Pink Floyd did when they wrote scores for Michelangelo Antonioni and Barbet Schroeder in 1969, composing pieces of music that fit the mood and flow of Denis' footage. One of these is basically an instrumental version of "My Sister", and Denis used the album version of "Tiny Tears" in the film as well, but the rest is a strange and slightly intoxicating lounge-jazz score characterized mostly by prominent, repetitive basslines and wandering vibraphone, piano, and organ textures. Though all but two of these scores predate the breakup of the band's original six-piece line-up, Nénette is the only one to future the whole original band....full text
DustedmagazineThe way things are going, seedees and elpees, as physical objects, will eventually become less music-delivery devices and more fetishized collectables. As for the question of whether having fresh-smelling physical albums is a cool thing or whether accumulating stuff is counterrevolutionary, Iíll leave it to those with the requisite patience. But I will say this. If you still dig the object, Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009, a sprawling five-disc box set from the smartly dressed U.K. orch-pop outfit Tindersticks, may be the coffee-table release of the year.
Despite the steadily resurgent interest in the early work of Scott Walker, Tindersticks remains very much a cult phenom. Thatís a shame, as the Sticks are his closest descendents, and this set will do little to rectify it. It bellows, ďFans only.Ē
To the casual observer, the bandís soundtrack work always looked like a lucrative side gig. It began with Nenette Et Boni in 1996, probably peaking in popularity with 2001ís gorgeous Trouble Every Day (which reaped the benefits of a Vince Gallo association) and continuing through what looked like the bandís demise in the late aughties. And, for completists and anyone else paying attention, it is the most expansive and rewarding route to the bandís elaborate genius. Hearing the complex, brittle figures and dense mood-setters here, itís much easier to understand why even the bandís simplest, purdiest pop ballads (try ďAll the Love,Ē from 2008ís stripped-down heartbreaker The Hungry Saw) sound so damned intricate, so damned one-of-a-kind beautiful....full text
TinymixtapesTindersticks had two albums of largely downtempo chamber pop under their belts when French filmmaker Claire Denis approached them after a concert to ask about recording a soundtrack for her 1996 film Nénette et Boni. It turned out to be a fateful meeting, as the collaboration has yielded positive results for both: working on instrumental music arguably helped change how the band approached their studio albums, and many of Denisí films derive a great deal of their emotional thrust from Tindersticksí music. Members Stuart Staples and Dickon Hincliffe have since recorded three more soundtracks for Denis together and two more separately. All six of these works have been packaged together by Constellation in a box set entitled Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009, which shows a much more varied and exploratory side of the group than the studio albums alone. It might also win them some new fans.
Although the band seemed to be in sync with Denis from the beginning, with music that seamlessly matched the alternating playful and serious tone of Nénette, listening to the albums in chronological order reveals how much more innovative and exploratory they became with each film. While the first two, Nénette and Trouble Every Day, sound the most like other Tindersticks albums ó especially when the former incorporates a song from their second release ó Staplesí music for 2004ís LíIntrus is distinctly his own. By 2009ís White Material, most traces of the groupís early romantic lounge act have disappeared. This is indicative of how comfortable and assured the director and musicians must have felt working together. And even at their most Tinderschticky, the soundtracks have a personality all their own, appropriately matching the filmsí varied themes: Néntte is romantic, nostalgic; Trouble Every Day eerie and stark; Vendredi Soir lush and passionate; LíIntrus mysterious and sinister; 35 Rhums tender and a bit melancholy; and White Material tense and foreboding.
As standalone works, theyíre enjoyable to varying degrees. For me, the two most recent soundtracks, 35 Rhums and White Material, stand up best divorced from their original context. One potential problem with soundtrack releases is their repetitious nature and lack of diversity. This is standard for film music, where if itís doing its job properly, we rarely notice the restated musical themes and motifs as we watch. But listening to such music independent from the film can sometimes be a bit of a slog. This isnít so much a problem with shorter works like Vendredi Soir, which clocks in at 23 minutes, but three takes on the main theme during the more than 40 minutes of Trouble Every Day is demanding, especially when echoes of it are found elsewhere on the album. While White Material is almost as long, it avoids this grating repetitiveness through more diverse ideas and creative application of instruments, stripping away the orchestration and full band to rely on the subtle use of electric guitar, feedback, droning organ, and mournful violin....full text
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