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the boats - Ballads Of The Research Department
'Ballads Of The Research Department' might well be The Boats' highest profile release to date. For 12k the trio of Andrew Hargreaves, Craig Tattersall and Danny Norbury have crafted one of their most exquisite albums, working with new vocalists Chris Stewart and Cuushe to realise a sensitive and tenderly intimate suite of sounds. 'Ballads…' breaks down as four extended compositions, rendering quiet pop gems as somnambulant drifts of rich strings, slowly effervescent tape effects and electro-acoustic detail which simply sound like nobody else. Two of the ballads are purely instrumental, '…For Achievement' sweeping from desolate widescreen ambience thru warbly, tape-worn texture descending to heartbreaking strings and tinkered electronics with a breathless, frictionless grace, while '…For the Girl On The Moon' is informed by a mixture of neo-classical and burnished midnight jazz modes arranged with a blink and miss sleight-of-hand. Working with Chris Stewart on '…For Failure' the atmosphere is tangibly rich with smoky tape delay, drifting in-and-out of consciousness with a duvet-diving quality, while Japanese vocalist Cuushe is placed against a ghostly backdrop of almost Burial-esque atmopsheres, plangent keys and padded bass, before swooning into Danny Norbury's cello reverie.