THE PASTELS The Last Great Wilderness (2003 UK 10-track CD album the original soundtrack from the Sigma Films production The Last Great Wilderness directed by David Mackenzie featuring collaborations with Gerard Love Bill Wells & Jarvis Cocker presented in a sealed digipak sleeve)
As the clear forerunners of Belle and Sebastian, it's easy to recall Glasgow's The Pastels as an indie band captured forever in some eternal adolescence, but The Last Great Wilderness
--a set of music written as the soundtrack to director David Mackenzie's 2003 directorial debut, a supernatural thriller set in the Scottish highlands--demonstrates that this band are about far more than naive indie jangle. Loosely inspired by the scores of Paul Giovanni, composer of The Wicker Man
's score, these intimate, rustic sounding song sketches bear the sure signs of improvisational techniques, as well as a keen interest in folk and traditional music from some of the more far-flung corners of the British Isles.
Notes for the album suggest that Stephen Pastel is directing here, while Tortoise's John McEntire--the set's producer--operates "camera". In fact, McEntire's contribution stretches further than mere production: any Tortoise fan will recognise those infinitesimal electronic tics burrowing deep under the Pastels' warm brass washes and lonely acoustic arpeggios. There's two stand-out tracks: a cover of Sly and the Family Stone's "Everybody Is a Star", which features Stephen Pastel and Katrina Mitchell in a loveably lazy duet; and the closing "I Picked a Flower', an electro-pop number featuring vocals from an on-form Jarvis Cocker, who sleazes about "planting your seed inside her flowerbed" with characteristically lascivious charm. --Louis Pattison