Track: Hear Jim Stewart’s ‘Dead Sea’: the composer responds to a Paul Nash painting, taken from the forthcoming ‘Stills 01’ music and painting project

Jim Stewart composes for STILLS 01

STILLS 01 is the first, beguiling three-track release from new imprint String and Tins Recordings that looks to marry the disciplines of music and fine art, insomuch as each piece of music recorded and issued in the series is a direct response to a painting in the collection of Tate Britain.

The first in the series is due out in just a fortnight – you can find out where to get it, below – and includes music inspired by paintings by Paul Nash, Mary Martin and Arthur Hacker. 

String and Tin is a sound design and music production company and this is its first venture into releasing music itself. Each contributing musician was asked to select for themselves the artwork they would wish to write about with the premise: if each respective artwork represented a still from a scene, what would the score sound like?

Drawing on String and Tins’ own aesthetic, Stills 01 comprises three tracks focusing on acoustic instruments and textural experiments.

You can hear a first track from that project herein: Jim Stewart decided to evoke 20th-century British painter Paul Nash’s “Totes Meer (Dead Sea)”, from 1940–1, which depicts a vast graveyard of Luftwaffe aircraft by moonlight; which Jim fashions sonically as a soft lament for caressed piano and a ground of environment recordings and distant electronics, refashioned, transmuted and reprocessed, capturing the fallen, haunting grandeur of machines of war. Hear the eerie microtonal swoops of planes in their death throes.

Elsewhere on the EP, Simon Whiteside employs an ensemble of cycling ten violins to express Mary Martin’s 96-panel aluminium work, “Inversions”; while Joe Wilkinson tackles Arthur Hacker’s high Victorian “The Annunciation” for choir, loops, synths and orchestra.

It’s a fascinating and very personal inter-media concept which should prove captivating as it unfolds.

Stills 01 will be released digitally by String and Tins Recordings on April 19th, and is available to pre-order now over at Bandcamp.

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