Once he’d identified each song’s greater role, Webb took pains to ensure the albums would stand alone. “Through the year of mixing and releasing Drift Code,” he continues, “I made a conscious effort not to listen to Clockdust. It became some long-lost twin everybody had forgotten. There was an older, wiser atmosphere to it, more cinematic, but in a romantic way”.
Clockdust draws upon an armoury of instruments, some, like the euphonium, unfamiliar in such contexts, and plenty – the kokoriko, the okónkolo – with even more unfamiliar names. Each track, too, indicates Webb’s fondness for the path less travelled, its twists and turns at first jarring but soon intuitive. That they’re embellished by a voice which has seemingly endured many lifetimes emphasises their mysterious nature. That its recording was soundtracked by Jacques Brel, Jet Harris and Kurt Weill no doubt contributed too. That many songs are inspired by old movies enhances their ageless atmosphere yet further.
Lead single “Jackie’s Room” is about a dysfunctional yet romantic relationship in which the protagonist believes “as long as she’s desired, she’ll never grow old” and the resulting track sways with the grace of its aging seductress. “I think of the album as containing stories from people who’ve reached their present situation through many years of experiences,” Webb says.
Idiosyncratic and quietly haunting, Clockdust is seeped in sepia-tinted nostalgia, “a powerful force of nature,” Webb states, “up there with love and desire”. The album blurs the boundaries between past and present. Webb insists that he prefers to live in the here and now, but in looking back he’s found a magical, mesmerising manner in which to forge a path forward: for him, for his music, and for his audience.
Alongside the album announcement, Rustin Man announces three very special live dates including London’s Union Chapel. These are the first live dates for Webb since 2003 – when he and Beth Gibbons performed their record Out of Season – and the first ever live dates in his Rustin Man solo guise. On stage, Webb will be joined by five other players, the core of which are Belgium musicians who played on the Dez Mona album, Hilfe Kommt, that Webb produced in 2009. Webb says “I’m excited and privileged to be working with this set of musicians. They already have a great understanding between them, and the unique atmosphere they create is very much in check with how I see Rustin Man music being interpreted live.”