Arrhythmia is Stuart A. Staples' first solo album in 13 years. It's immersive and experimental, both recognizably the work of the Tindersticks' frontman and simultaneously a stand-alone, unique piece of work. It's a provocative album where electronic experimentations and rare multi-instrumentations interweave, wrapping themselves around unconventional but utterly spellbinding song structures. Written in what Staples describes as "a lost year," Arrhythmia began on Christmas day 2016 when he was drawn to the studio to record the beginnings of "A New Real," the album's hypnotic opener of glitchy electronic loops with a sly nod to disco.
A year later the entire album was complete, a process which involved Staples struggling between his own free sense of timing and more mechanical rhythms and what he describes as "a growing need for each song to take a turn, to lead them into strange places, keeping the feeling or effect of the song, but only as a memory." The second track "Memories of Love" is indicative of Arrhythmia's time-less experimentation and musical exploration. A stark and delicate melancholy opens up to rich and increasingly vivid chiming bells. There's a feeling that the song has two diversely distinct parts unexpectedly, yet perfectly, married. Closing side 1, "Step Into the Grey" offers a dark romanticism reminiscent of early Tindersticks with a crescendo of freestyle percussion and strings.
Side 2 of the album consists of a 30 minute instrumental track "Music for A Year In Small Paintings." The piece began its evolution back in 2012, when filmmaker and long-time Staples collaborator, Claire Denis first saw the serial of works by the painter (and Staples' partner) Suzanne Osborne and wanted to turn these 365 oil paintings of the sky into a film. As friends and musicians passed through Staples' studio he asked them to watch and react to the paintings.