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All good artists should evolve, but only great ones revolutionise themselves. Faultline's second album, 'Your Love Means Everything', is the sound of that revolution. Known for the starkly beautiful, often disturbing electronica of his critically acclaimed debut album, 1999's 'Closer, Colder', Faultline (the nom de disque of David Kosten) has now collaborated with artists of the calibre of REM's Michael Stipe, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips and Nick McCabe, ex-of The Verve. The result isn't so much a great leap forward as a jet-propelled pole vault into the realms of genius.
Half vocal and half instrumental, it moves from the ominous, churning OESweet Iris¹ to the beauty of newcomer Jacob Golden¹s vocal on OEBitter Kiss¹; from the bells and half-heard voices of OEI Only Know Myself¹ to Chris Martin¹s dark lullaby on the final track. Combining classic songwriting skills and deeply soulful guest performances with experimental sounds, OEYour Love Means Everything¹ is the type of record you wish everyone would make. It's that original, and that good.
It's taken David Kosten two years to pull his masterpiece together from his North London base. "On 'Closer, Colder'," he says, "I was very pleased with the way it sounded but I always wanted to be working with songs and singers. I didn't know how to find the people that I wanted to work with, so I ended up with Dennis Hopper samples, porn chatlines and death threats." This time, however, Kosten set about contacting the people he knew would help him in his quest to make a record emotionally poised on the brink of elation and despair. "I sent them a demo and letter which said, OEWill you sing on my record?'" he remembers, sitting in the untidy room where most of 'Your Love Means Everything' was made (the Michael Stipe collaboration was recorded in New York). "I'd give them a mood and an access point so I could tell them what sort of world I wanted to create. I wanted a feeling of welling up of hope and even uncontrollable joy in places... a spark. But the comedown is always there and there'd be a darkness and melancholy to it as well. I¹ve never been into stuff that was just cute the whole time. It's always fucked in some way."
Jacob Golden, an unknown but prodigiously talented singer signed to Rough Trade and introduced to Kosten by Geoff Travis, was the first person to get on board. "He¹s a completely raw talent and it¹s just fantastic to be in the studio with someone like that² Kosten says. Wayne Coyne, lead singer with super-innovative band The Flaming Lips was the first person to be formally approached. OEThe Colossal Gray Sunshine¹ was sent through the post; eventually, the whole of the band worked on the track, helping to make it one of the most emotionally charged songs you¹ll ever hear. Kosten knew Chris Martin from Coldplay¹s early days; The results are two heart-rending tracks OEWhere Is My Boy?¹ and OEYour Love Means Everything Part 2¹ which contain some of the most stunning vocals Martin has recorded. Finally, OEGreenfields¹, the Michael Stipe track, is a cover of one of Kosten¹s favourite childhood songs, by American vocal group The Brothers Four. "Michael seemed perfect for that kind of dark Americana," notes Kosten, "so I was ecstatic when he said he wanted to do it. It¹s almost like someone singing inside their own head just singing to themselves. It¹s such a sad song"
The whole album is a personal landmark for David Kosten. Brought up in north London, where he still lives and works, he spent half the Nineties on the dole after dropping out of art college. "My studies were sitting, fucked off, in front of a four-track [recorder] and just spending day after day learning why sounds sounded good together and discovering what I liked," he recalls. 1997 and 1998 were spent getting 'Closer, Colder' made, Kosten's intention being "to make an opening statement that raised the bar for myself and made listeners sure that whatever came out under the Faultline name was going to be something that was surprising, to give them music that they'd never heard before." Praised everywhere from NME to Sleaze Nation, 'Closer, Colder' introduced the world to Faultline's uniquely atmospheric and unsettling sound, one track featuring death threats Kosten received from a disaffected singer. In fact, Kosten's life has been punctuated with similarly alarming incidents, most recently a "fantastic, surreal kind of filmic car crash" where the people who crashed into him turned out to be armed robbers escaping from a job in which they'd just shot someone. Given experiences like this, it¹s not surprising there is darkness in his music, although Kosten denies a link. "Those things just seem to follow me around," he smiles.
It's also not surprising, then, that Kosten spends almost all his time in the studio, either on his own, experimenting with sounds and waiting for the magic moment, or creating an environment in which other people can be creative. Though he thinks that people who listen to his music must imagine that he spends all his time in a darkened room (which, of course, he generally does), he's also obsessed with Laurel and Hardy and, charmingly, Dick Dastardly and Muttley. Yet Kosten says, looking around the studio, "This is what I do. I live a fairly normal life and I sit here until God knows when waiting for inspiration to strike and then I go home. There's nothing very fancy about it." Yet this unassuming man who makes uncompromising music has managed to enchant some of the world's biggest and most talented artists into sharing his vision, coaxing career-best performances out of them in the process. 'Your Love Means Everything' is a milestone record. It may not be fancy, but it's touched by genius.