Ex-Talk Talk enigma Rustin Man trans­mits new codes for drift­ing

Mojo (UK) - - What Goes On! -

“You build your en­vi­ron­ment and then you play into it…” RUSTIN MAN

SEVEN­TEEN YEARS ago, back in MOJO 108, Jim Irvin wrote of Beth Gib­bons and Rustin Man’s Out Of Sea­son LP that it was, “among the best al­bums ever made”. Now ex-Talk Talk bassist Paul Webb, AKA Rustin Man, is to fol­low up that blessed de­but in 2019, with Drift Code. But what’s he been do­ing all this time? “I had a young fam­ily,” says Webb from his con­verted barn near Stansted, where he both lives and records. “Plus, I downed tools when I was asked to do pro­duc­tion. I’m quite ob­ses­sive about mu­sic, so to keep the stan­dard up I had to kind of, slow down…” Slow­ing down into a dif­fer­ent way of re­gard­ing time and ex­pec­ta­tions is a use­ful way of ap­proach­ing the small hours dream-states, haunt­ing still-lifes and junk­yard blues of Drift Code, which for the first time finds Webb singing lead vo­cals. “I started think­ing about it as soon as I came off tour with Beth – in what was it, 2004?,” he says. “I started get­ting melodies and chords to­gether, onto a dic­ta­phone. Go­ing into dif­fer­ent rooms with an acous­tic gui­tar, learn that line, go on to two lines… they were the seeds of the ideas.” With Webb play­ing most in­stru­ments him­self, these ideas grew in a cu­ri­ously do­mes­tic set­ting: as fam­ily mem­bers grew from child­hood to late ado­les­cence, horn parts were recorded in the lounge, Ham­mond or­gans found them­selves with dry­ing laun­dry draped over them and mike leads criss-crossed the land­ing. One early record­ing ses­sion, he says, in­volved a month in 2005 spent lay­ing down drum parts with old Talk Talk part­ner Lee Har­ris in a tri­an­gu­lar cham­ber at the top of the house, after other rooms were found want­ing. An­other record­ing zone was in the barn proper, an arte­fact-packed space which Webb com­pares to the set of Step­toe & Son, or Lau­rence Olivier’s house in the 1972 movie Sleuth. ”Peo­ple have said it’s like walk­ing into a dream,” says Webb (the room can be seen on the video for the al­bum’s lead sin­gle Van­ish­ing Heart). “There are… ob­jects. It’s like you build your en­vi­ron­ment and then you play into it, you do the sound­track to that place. So much stuff has been gen­er­ated from here.” The re­sults have a time-shift­ing qual­ity, be­fit­ting the sleeve (an Am­s­ter­dam bar­rel or­gan in 1940) and Webb’s other guid­ing no­tions – his par­ents’ Cab Cal­loway and Mills Brothers records, for ex­am­ple, or an imag­i­na­tive ex­er­cise whereby he went back 70 years to play a ses­sion with an elec­tric gui­tar and an arse­nal of ef­fects ped­als. He has, he says, “a vis­ual ap­proach to the mu­sic. It’s me play­ing these in­stru­ments, but I’m visu­al­is­ing the bar­rel or­gan play­ing it. The lyrics are the same, it’s a col­lec­tion of sto­ries, built up of dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters and emo­tions. It’s al­most theatre for me, like how Scott Walker or Tom Waits would look at it.” Vo­cally, he also strays into Robert Wy­att’s bruised, truth-telling melan­choly. “I love his stuff and the pathos of it,” says Webb, “but that’s just the na­ture of my voice, it wasn’t con­scious. I was find­ing a voice to work with each lyric.” (Re­gard­ing Gib­bons’ ab­sence, he says, “We talked about it, but I guess I got into an un­com­pro­mis­ing thing, with all the ideas be­ing gen­er­ated by me, all the time.”) After Drift Code’s re­lease, Webb plans to take the ma­te­rial out live. “It’s es­capism that I’m look­ing for,” he says. “If you go back to [Talk Talk’s 1988 master­piece] Spirit Of Eden, you do get lost, for a while. I don’t think you ever ar­rive, do you? There’s no an­swer, be­cause the an­swer’s al­ways chang­ing.”

Ti­tle: Drift Code Date: Fe­bru­ary Pro­duc­tion: Rustin Man Songs: Van­ish­ing Heart / Mar­tian Gar­den / Our To­mor­rows / The World’s In Town / Light The Light The Buzz : “Though I’ve done it layer by layer, I’ve tried to make it sound like it was all recorded live in one room, with a tim­ing that was fluc­tu­at­ing. A code is some­thing that’s very locked, but un­der­neath there’s some­thing that’s out of con­trol, mov­ing back and forth, all the time.” FACT SHEET Speak­ing in tongues: Paul Webb emerges from do­mes­tic ex­ile and chan­nels his in­ner Rustin Man.

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