New London label String and Tins Recordings – launched out of the sound design collective of the same name – gets off the mark this coming April with Stills 01, a short collection of works inspired by various pictures on display at Tate Britain.
The first track to emerge from what will be an ongoing series is Jim Stewart’s “Dead Sea,” which was inspired by the early WWII painting Totes Meer, by Paul Nash. The picture shows waves of fragmented aircraft rearing against a nighttime shore like so many gnawing razors, the scars dug into a thin forearm of sand hinting at their deadly landfall. Nash himself said Totes Meer was inspired by a wrecked aircraft heap he saw in Oxfordshire – “like a great inundating sea… static and dead.”
Jim Stewart, with campaigns for Bose, Nike and Michelob under his belt (as well as the score for the Netflix documentary Chasing Perfect) is best known as a beat-maker and rapper by his colleagues, albeit one with a penchant for ambient music. It’s this side of his craft that bubbles up for “Dead Sea,” which buries chilly blasts of air, limping piano and the distant march of ghosts in a sudden, vast swell of cutting strings. The track is as beautiful as it is unnerving, perfectly encapsulating the feeling of mournful awe Nash said he felt upon encountering the metallic boneyard and its mysterious roils of rigor mortis as it glinted in the moonlight.
Stewart is joined for Stills 01 by Simon Whiteside (taking on Inversions by Mary Martin) and Joe Wilkinson (Arthur Hacker’s The Annunciation). The music will be released as a download by String and Tins Recordings on 19 April and you can enjoy “Dead Sea” below now.