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Flood Tide

As fictional eulogy to a lost friend, portrait of the closed and the closing towns of post-industrial America, paean to the Bohemian dream of life on the move, collaboration with art collective the Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea, documentary of a DIY raft-building project on the Hudson River, and showcase of Dark Dark Dark's versatile turns at folk, jazz, Americana and ambient set pieces, Flood Tide is a truly multi-platform endeavour.
Written, directed, edited and produced by bassist Todd Chandler, and featuring the band themselves as the directionless protagonists, the film's gentle pace allows the music to take centre stage. The songs here provide emotional cues to the story arc that stand up as mini-narratives of their own. The busy click-clack that forms the rhythmic backbone of 'Jobs', for example, succumbs to the quiet guitar and piano meditation of 'Night', before 'Building' picks up a more industrious pace, with banjo and harmonica leading the jaunt.
The musicianship is simple but elegant throughout, with occasional flourishes of guitar, violin, double bass and brushed drums allowing the piano to lead the melody in most instances. The vocal numbers that are performed in the film - several cutely tied into the narrative as busking efforts, performed to support the characters' increasingly cash-strapped enterprise - are absent here, although we are treated to glimpses of the band's more lively repertoire, including the closing accordion shuffle of 'Quarry'.
As a collection of musical vignettes, Flood Tide offers a separate impression - a band putting their hand to a task outside their typical remit, and coming out with a beautifully sparse record that stands up entirely on its own merits.

Matthew Neale