Beachcomber, the opening track off Dante’s most recent album is also the title of several things including a poem by George Mackay Brown and more recently the title of a book of short stories by Dante’s mandolin strummer, Stephen Thom. This limited edition collection of stories are poetic and intrinsically linked to the Mackay Brown poem in that it too looks at the cycle of life, but less so from a fishing and agricultural perspective. Modernised and up-to-date we see all sorts within this gem, mental health, relationship break up and heartache and alcoholism just to top it all off.
Incorporating all the lyrics from the album, I Wear Your Weight With Mine, into this collection of short stories, it is easy to see that Dante’s most recent album is no breezy pop, as although lyrical, yes, the themes running throughout this book are of no light nature. The artwork of both album and book are however, notable, as they are the work of Tracy Maurice, who was also responsible for Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible and Funeral. But it is within the content of the book that the real art sits, as Thom’s prose is vivid, with paragraphs such as:
When she looked at the blackness on either side of them, tall, indistinct, shapes moved. As the cart pushed up the hill, a frosted, purple streak sent a dull hue through the dark grass. She noticed other lonely treemen, lanky, skinny and lost, shuffling about in the night..
Descriptive, evocative and yet precise, finely tuned, it’s easy to see why the band’s music is so engaging. You really get a sense of the low point at which K is at, and his struggle and obstacles, which encourages you to read on, just to ensure he battles these woes.
An unusual delivery from a band, a book of short stories which includes their album lyrics, it also demonstrates the themes that run throughout the album, the narrative that sits within I Wear Your Weight With Mine, almost validating the record in some weird way. Certainly if you are fan of Dante’s music I urge you to read this insight into their music, as well as some rather dark yet wonderful prose.
Beachcomber from Stephen Thom is available here.