Rustin Man a.k.a Paul Webb (of Talk Talk) will release a new album, Clockdust – his second in two years – on March 20th. The first song to be shared from the new record is “Jackie’s Room”, with a video directed by Edwin Burdis.
Having waited 17 years for Drift Code, some may be surprised at Clockdust’s swift arrival, but the album’s roots can be found in the same extended sessions. “Early on I realized I had two albums worth of material,” Webb explains. “The first tunes I wrote were electric guitar based, with long arrangements that built up in layers to something sonically quite dense. These became the bulk of Drift Code. As a reaction, I wrote a batch of songs that were tighter in their structure but had more feeling of space. These make up the bulk of Clockdust.”
Once he’d identified each song’s greater role, Webb took pains to ensure the albums would stand alone. “Through the year of mixing and releasing Drift Code,” he continues, “I made a conscious effort not to listen to Clockdust. It became some long-lost twin everybody had forgotten. There was an older, wiser atmosphere to it, more cinematic, but in a romantic way”.
Clockdust draws upon an armory of instruments, some, like the euphonium, unfamiliar in such contexts, and plenty – the kokoriko, the okónkolo – with even more unfamiliar names. Each track, too, indicates Webb’s fondness for the path less traveled, its twists and turns at first jarring but soon intuitive. That they’re embellished by a voice which has seemingly endured many lifetimes emphasizes their mysterious nature. That its recording was soundtracked by Jacques Brel, Jet Harris and Kurt Weill no doubt contributed too. That many songs are inspired by old movies enhances their ageless atmosphere yet further.
Lead single “Jackie’s Room” is about a dysfunctional yet romantic relationship in which the protagonist believes “as long as she’s desired, she’ll never grow old” and the resulting track sways with the grace of its aging seductress. “I think of the album as containing stories from people who’ve reached their present situation through many years of experiences,” Webb says.
Idiosyncratic and quietly haunting, Clockdust is steeped in sepia-tinted nostalgia, “a powerful force of nature,” Webb states, “up there with love and desire”. The album blurs the boundaries between past and present. Webb insists that he prefers to live in the here and now, but in looking back he’s found a magical, mesmerizing manner in which to forge a path forward: for him, for his music, and for his audience.
Rustin Man has also announced European live dates. These are the first live dates for Webb since 2003 – when he and Beth Gibbons performed their record Out of Season – and the first ever live dates in his Rustin Man solo guise.
Thu Nov 12 – Het Zonnehuis, Amsterdam
Fri Nov 13 – 4AD Presenteert, Diksmuide
Sat Nov 14 – Union Chapel, London
Tracklisting for Clockdust
1. Carousel Days
2. Gold & Tinsel
3. Jackie’s Room
4. Love Turns Her On
5. Rubicon Song
6. Old Flamingo
7. Kinky Living
8. Night In Evening City
9. Man With A Remedy