The Boats – Ballads of the Darkroom
Ballads of the Darkroom is the third and final part of the Ballads trilogy. And it is from the darkroom: this is a collection of images half-developed and others left floating in the sink. The album collects alternate versions, outtakes and remixes from the stellar Ballads of the Research Department on 12k. So, the good news is that while it may be the end of the Ballads trilogy, it is never the exit of the research department for The Boats. For those who have enjoyed the series thus far, Darkroom is a fitting denouement.
Once you hit play it takes all of 8 seconds and that first atomic drop of tape hiss to realise we are in Boats land. From there, the “The Ballad of Bb” develops for a little over a minute and then disappears into the ether. It’s reminiscent of those slices of melody that are pastiched together to make Research Department, but this one is just that, a slice and nothing more. And that’s not a bad thing – 90 seconds of Boats loveliness is still enough to grab you by the heartstrings. “The Ballad of Underachievement” and “The Ballad for Underachievement” are other negatives that were never exposed. But, again, neither piece feels incomplete and that sense of feeling complete despite their brevity really does highlight the workmanlike construction of Research Department.
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