Ends Run Together
The Bats do what they do so well – steady guitar jangle, tight rhythm section, pensive vocals – that no one really expects more from them. It makes the second solo album by their singer/guitarist Robert Scott all the more surprising. His voice may still tug with vague pangs of sadness and romance, but Ends Run Together is like a mixed bag of treats. There’s gauzy spoken-word on ?Terminus?, noisy psych on ?Too Early?, and a Krautrock chug to ?Daylight? – and that’s just for starters. Tempo and volume rise and fall, guests come and go, and yet Scott maintains the low-key presence that has held together so many Bats records over the past three decades.
Scott’s willingness to experiment was matched by engineer Dale Cotton, a fellow Kiwi who’s also set to helm the next Bats album. Cotton worked closely with Scott to tweak and transform songs, teasing out lots of fresh ideas in the process. Under this anything-goes premise, friends were brought in to contribute drums, accordion, saw, and more. Cotton himself lent guitar, keys, and, um, ?stone?, while Scott got to play around with piano, bass, different guitars, xylophone and even handclaps and a turntable. Thus his delicate, atmospheric songs are alternately bolstered and stripped bare, whether it’s David Kilgour – Scott’s bandmate from The Clean – lending a bit of guitar or members of Haunted Love providing a choir to a mournful swell of viola, violin and cello. Or no one at all. The stirring instrumental ?Tuscan Nights? is the work of Scott on his lonesome.
In a recent interview, Scott cited John Cale’s Paris 1919* as one of his favourite albums. While *Ends Run Together is a much more modest undertaking, it shares a sense of introspection and nostalgia rendered through lush arrangements and glistening melodies. It’s hard to view this album outside the context of Scott’s extensive work in The Bats and The Clean, but for anyone who feels intimidated by the sheer bulk of that influential back catalogue, this is a nice place to start.