Broadcast on BBC Four in January this year, Penny Woolcock’s From The Sea To The Land Beyond was a glorious hour-plus montage of archive footage captured across the past century, with its focus on the British coastline. Choosing British Sea Power to score the film can’t have been a hard decision. They already had form, courtesy of 2009’s Man Of Aran soundtrack, while, from the name down, the band have consistently captured nature’s ethereality in their music. This score is as elemental as their music comes.
New motifs ripple with echoes from BSP’s past (The Land Beyond, Machineries Of Joy, Waving Flags, No Lucifer), creating a nostalgic work that stands alone without the film; it moves beyond the sea, beyond the land, and into more intangible realms. As Strange Sports builds from guitar effects and ghostly atmospherics into an instrumental reworking of Something Wicked, originally recorded for BSP’s debut album, it’s a spine-tingling moment. Later songs Bear and Cleaning Out The Rooms are rewoven to even more emotional effect than in their previous guises, on the Zeus EP and Valhalla Dancehall long-player respectively.
Released earlier this year, Machineries Of Joy was clear evidence that BSP’s OST work was infiltrating their studio albums proper. If they took Tindersticks’ route and began to focus more on soundtrack work, that can only be the film world’s gain.