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Edwyn Collins - The Possibilities Are Endless OST

"The Possibilities Are Endless OST"

Release date: 10 November 2014
Edwyn Collins The Possibilities Are Endless Front Cover
05 November 2014, 13:30 Written by Stephen Jenkins
After suffering from two strokes which took him to the very edge of his life in 2005, Edwyn Collins had to relearn many aspects of language and music from scratch. The once illustrious lyricist and vocalist was only able to repeat the following words: “yes”, “no”, his wife’s name “Grace Mawell”, and the phrase “the possibilities are endless”. The latter lends itself to the title of a new film (and accompanying soundtrack) which documents Collins’ poignant and inspiring road to recovery.

As a musician, Edwyn Collins needs little introduction. From being the mastermind behind post-punk pioneers Orange Juice – one of the most influential bands of their era - Collins went on to charm and dazzle many during his solo career, the pinnacle of which saw his song “A Girl Like You” reach number 4 in the UK singles chart in 1994. However, after a double cerebral haemorrhage in 2005, Collins gave the world of music the most extraordinary story about his difficult path to recovery, along which he was helped by an undying passion for creativity.

Recorded by Edwyn, Carwyn Ellis and Sebastian Lewsley, the accompanying soundtrack to The Possibilities Are Endless aptly captures the complex moods of the film – all at once we feel discomfort, pity, serenity, hope, and admiration. The opening half of film is a difficultly slow and uneasy introduction into Edwyn's mind. Beautiful images of Collins' native Scotland (specifically, the gloomy and sublime seaside town of Helmsdale) are cut together with images of a lost young boy and a drowning body.

All the while Edwyn endeavours to recall childhood memories over sparse, yet serene instrumental tracks like “One Note Wonder Part 1”, “Note Wonder Part II”, “Leviathan”. Other songs from the Collins repertoire appear in stripped down instrumental forms, such as “Home Again Harmonies” and “Quite Like Silver Piano Refrain”. It's a mesmerising viewing and listening experience which holds your full attention and focus, making you fully aware of your sensory perceptions as the camera locks you into place within Edwyn's thoughts and memories as he struggles to piece it all back together.

The second half of the documentary is a much more dynamic and revealing affair. We visit Edwyn's home, his studio and his family, witnessing the pragmatic romance between Edwyn and his wife whilst Edwyn's son William acts out a fledgling romance on the streets and riversides of London.

The gliding nature of The Possibilities Are Endless- which lacks a conventional informative narrator – looks to vocal tracks to give it a sense of drive, direction and meaning. The song “Viewed From All Angles”, for example, switches mid-song from being a lovelorn brooder to a punchy, accusatory thrasher, marking in sound the film's transition from the focus of Edwyn's post-stroke mind-state to a more determined focus on recovery. As the film unravels more and more about Edwyn's return to recording music, other vocal tracks come to the fore, such as “Down The Line”, “Don't Shilly Shally – 2014 Version”, “Two Steps Back” and “I've Got It Bad”.

For many, Edwyn Collins will always be a heroic figure, and rightly so. But if the documentary behind this soundtrack album reveals one thing, it is that we needn't get swept away by the sense of mythology that often builds itself around musicians. In Collins' case it is easy to forget behind this utterly inspiring story about a superhuman feat of willpower of recover in which creativity is both the means and the end, there is a very humbling story about a man and his family who simply want to achieve some semblance of normality. As Collins' wife states during the film: “you have to suck it up whenever the bad stuff happens... we went about dealing with [the stroke] the same way we went about dealing with the other aspects of our life.”

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