“We wanted to present the ballad in a new form employing sounds as well as words to tell our stories. These stories are not as lyrical as the ballad form of the past and are open to the listener’s interpretation. These are ballads of our time that are aware of the past. They are investigations into the uncertainty of our time, love, woe and hope.” – The Boats
The Boats are a group who have floored me this year with their full length Ballads of The Research Department on the 12K imprint. The Boats are a duo who calls upon the talents of their colleagues, associates and friends in the different approaches of sound they have contributed to both their respective works. Consisting of Craig Tattersall (ex-Hood, The Remote Viewer, and owner of the Cotton Goods label) and Andrew Hargreaves (Tape Loop Orchestra), The Boats Ballads of The Research Department is one of the most awe inspiring albums of the year and is a record I am very honored to write about today. Atmospheric electronic tones oscillate in heavenly forms with piano, cello and other majestic sounding instruments serving as the body and shape of the entire four song full length. Pressed in a limited edition of 1000 copies, this is one album that I still can’t find the beauty and meaning it gives to me in description form.
The Boats new record sends chills up my spine in the way that Godspeed You! Black Emperor did for me when first hearing their music. It retains so much depth in resonance. There is a nostalgic tone of past times that share the same space with the futuristic synth tones that roam around in the mix in versatile movement. The four extended pieces on the album retain so much vitality and presence through electronic and acoustic states that it really makes the record as youthful as it is aged. Long passages construct each entry and landing point on the four songs, with a slowly swirling amalgamation of symbiotic acoustic and electronic tones. This band chooses a slowly evolving and expanding gestation to the sound on Ballads of The Research Department, giving away to crackling, swaying emotional fall out moments that can be traced from the beginning to the end of the song.
The Boats have uniquely crafted a record that does into require deviated rhythm sections and mind altering chord sequences. Instead, they push the paint brush to the front and center for a meditative ride into the Boats world. The percussive counterparts come at the hand of soft, angelic brush strokes and an uncanny, sophisticated acoustic based groove. Stringed instrumentation becomes so entangled into the synth, piano and other melodic features that it pulls the music inward and outward like the beating cycles of the heart.
Minimal and extremely distinct vocal works on Ballads of The Research Department come from Japanese vocalist Cuushe and multi-instrumentalist Chris Stewart, an additional aspect to the record that allows the vast amounts of breathing space in the sheets of the music to be filled up. Ballads of The Research Department is cinematic at heart and is something I can’t put down; frankly, it’s a record I don’t think I ever will. Highly recommended at Sound Colour Vibration.
Ballads of The Research Department
- The Ballad For Achievement
- The Ballad Of Failure
- The Ballad For The Girl On The Moon
- The Ballad Of Indecision