Sea Power’s Man Of Aran score released on vinyl for first time
June 15, 2023
Rough Trade Records are pleased to announce the reissue of Sea Power’s ‘Man Of Aran’ score on 25 August 2023, which will see the album released on vinyl for the first time.
In 2009 the band, then known as British Sea Power, were commissioned by the Edinburgh Film Festival to create their own soundtrack for the 1934 quasi-documentary, which they premiered by playing along live during a screening at the event.
A studio version of the album followed in May the same year, while more screening/performances took place at the BFI in London and at cinemas in Brighton and Sheffield, while events were also staged on a series of islands, including Jersey, the Hebrides and a Norwegian islet in the Arctic Circle.
Charting the activities of fisherman based on a remote outcrop in mouth of Galway Bay in western Ireland, Man Of Aran captured a disappearing way of life as Aran’s inhabitants battled daily against the elements to survive, something that chimed deeply with Sea Power’s own curiosity for the past and their urgent, environmentally-driven concerns for the future.
The, mainly instrumental score, proved to be a true artistic collaboration that stretched across the decades, earning the group widespread acclaim upon its release, both for the music’s simpatico relationship with the original film and as a stand alone work in its own right.
Declared by The Quietus on release as a “perfect symbiosis that should rightly be regarded as something of an understated classic,” Ireland’s Hot Press called it “Stunning… breath-taking” while NME encouraged listeners to “let it all gloriously wash over you.”
Fans will finally be able to experience that artistic and emotional depth on vinyl with this reissue.
Released on 25 August, and available for pre-order now from Sea Power and Rough Trade Record’s online shops, the double LP set of Man Of Aran will be initially pressed on to yellow and blue vinyl, and features the album’s original artwork. A black vinyl edition will follow after the initial run.
The original Man of Arran film was a powerful and provocative dramatised documentary from the late American filmmaker Robert J Flaherty which was celebrated and controversial on its release because Man Of Aran isn’t a straightforward documentary. The ‘family’ at the centre of the film weren’t related, rather a group of islanders cast as the family unit by the director. The fishing expedition for basking sharks, which forms the film’s dramatic heart, was based on methods that hadn’t been employed on the Aran Islands for decades.
Blending reality and staged elements, Flaherty arrived at a compelling document that captures the elemental power of the island’s past and present. The film won the Grand Prix at the 1935 Venice Film Festival and the eminent film critic Pauline Kael described it as, “The greatest film tribute to man’s struggle against a hostile nature.”
“It’s a wonderful film,” suggested Sea Power’s guitarist, Noble, at the time of the soundtrack’s release. “The images vary between huge drama and a brilliant kind of ridiculousness – check out the amazing foot-wide bobbled berets that the fishermen wear. It’s a great look, like a 1930s Irish version of Jack White or Kraftwerk. It’s a film that’s also relevant to the current era – a time when the idea of living a simpler life is in the air. The film shows something I’d like to think I could do, but know I never will.”
Described by The Independent On Sunday as “chiming perfectly with BSP’s fascination with lost ways of life”, that band also found Man Of Aran resonated strongly with audiences when they performed the soundtrack live, producing the same, inspiring emotional responses from widely different demographics, which included a group of tear-stained Norwegian fishermen packed into in a 14th-century wooden church; an enthralled crowd of ravers at the UK’s Big Chill festival; and 2000 Irish ex-pats at Australia’s Perth International Film Festival.
It is fitting then that Man Of Aran is now finally coming out on vinyl, where the format’s deep dive qualities with allow the impact of Sea Power’s music to be felt in full.