A holy trinity of excellent artists comes together for 'Theme to A Little Bit Of Powder'. The project originally began as a short story by acclaimed writer Ian Rankin, which caught the eye of Tim Burgess, lead singer of the newly anointed and no-longer-uncool Charlatans, who is releasing a spoken version of the story on his label -- as read by misfit Craig Parkinson. To top it all off, Factory Floor's innovative Nik Colk Void has composed a soundtrack for it. Ambient audiobook, anybody?
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- Theme to 'A Little Bit Of Powder' by Ian Rankin, Craig Parkinson, Nik Void & Tim Burgess
8/10 Robin Staff review, 19 November 2014
If you’re interested in Scottish crime novelists writing softly-spoken treatises on working for a touring band -- ones that wouldn’t be out of place on BBC Radio Four at a time when you’re probably at work -- then Ian Rankin has got a little something for you. In the niche release of the year, he offers up a long-form monologue about the changing landscape of music -- and how the best way to accumulate cultural and financial capital is by touring your album, rather than putting effort into it in the studio. The A-side to ‘A Little Bit of Powder’ is a little bit of a novella, Rankin’s modest, contently uneventful story read aloud by actor Craig Parkinson, supplemented by thin instrumental music that occasionally appears among the dead silence. As far as meta-analyses of the music industry go, this one is quiet, making its points without labouring over them or casting every single problem as a heinous crime -- ultimately, it’s a compellingly personal story, a memoir more than a critique.
The whole thing gets even more niche when you flip the side over and discover Tim Burgess -- Charlatan and label boss -- has commissioned a full-on theme tune for Rankin’s story. He actually provides some sterling guitar work, and then goes all Quietus quixotic by inviting Factory Floor’s Nik Colk Void to defy his pastoral acoustic picking with skittering electronics and bowled-over percussion. The strings swell, too -- somehow. There’s a vocal version and an instrumental, and both flesh out the small sketches and motifs that have pervaded Rankin’s monologue, giving a full feel for the resigned but strangely optimistic tone his words have. ‘A Little Bit of Powder’ is an oddity, in our landscape: it suggests no one’s buying records anymore, and that there's no place for them -- but it’s a 12”, nonetheless, and they hope you'll pick it up.
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