gorillaz + jamie hewlett: on melacholy hill.

Gorillaz are one of a select group of artists who continuously and relentlessly push the edge of what music videos can accomplish. Working with some of the absolute best directors and animators in the business doesn’t hurt either. They’ve never stopped evolving the visual lives of the animated personas, and in so have created a video universe where the music and the motion complement and augment each other. I still think the vid for “19-2000” (also directed by Jamie Hewlett and Pete Candeland) is one of the best animated music vids ever.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Gorillaz have teamed up again with Passion Pictures‘ Hewlett and Candeland for their latest, “Melancholy Hill.” The video is, basically, fucking incredible. There were over 40 people on the crew of animators and compositors, and it shows. The attention to detail is crazy and it pays off big time. Not watching this in HD would be the equivalent of going to a top restaurant and asking for ketchup. HD it baby.

Personally, I think it looks better on Vimeo but if that one gets pulled here’s the link to the vid on Gorillaz’s YouTube channel.

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Via Feed.

s. carey: in the dirt.

Interesting that two of the freshest, most exciting new sounds I’ve heard lately are both from percussionists in established acts doing the solo thing. A few month’s ago was the first EP from Caribou drummer/percussionist Brad Weber’s side project Pick A Piper, and now Bon Iver’s drummer/pianist S. Carey comes to the table with his solo project “All We Grow.”

Coincidence? Methinks not. It feels to me like the percussionists think about music a little differently. Rhythmically, sure, but I think all that time spent, literally, keeping time, gives them a separate approach when they expand to creating the whole sound. With the best of rhythm – a pulse, a throb, a gait – that’s finally being allowed to express its own freedom and reach out.

The first track, “In The Dirt”, is percussive with the piano and dreamy throughout. Again, it has a tone that repeats but in a way that feels like coming back to something you love rather than being stuck in the same place. A fresh familiarity. It’s the difference being the sound of being home and the sound of just being.

“All We Grow” is out Aug. 24/10 on Jagjaguwar.

Via andrewformayor.

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great lake swimmers + nir ben jacob: river’s edge.

Worthy Polaris Prize-nominees Great Lake Swimmers are one of my favourite bands of all time.  Their music is like acoustic air. It’s billowy and expansive and makes you feel like flying. I don’t have enough organic expletives to express my love for it. If I ever get married, it will be to a track from their brilliant 2007 album “Ongiara.” I won’t say which one, because it’s mine, but if I ever have a boyfriend who figures it out I’ll go down on one knee there and then.

Their latest, 2009’s “Lost Channels” makes me feel everything good and slow in the world. It’s sunshine and fresh-mown grass and cold beer and long eyelashes and that feeling that when you’re done what you’re doing you’ve got somewhere better to go – all rolled into songs.

Matching the subtlety and earthy eloquence of “River’s Edge”, director and animator Nir Ben Jacob has created a video inspired, literally, by wood. Carved and thatched, the visuals unfold and evolve like building blocks and move in time with the track like musical carvings. The result is a gorgeous vid that reaches out, like branches, and wraps itself around you.

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I found this quote from Jacob on Video Static. It made me love the video even more:

“About a year ago I stumbled on these old wood-chip plate compositions my late grandfather made. They’re a beautiful example of early Israeli-Yemenite art. As soon as I saw them I knew I had to animate them. They had been in storage for decades so it meant a great deal to bring them out and breathe life into them. This was an opportunity to not only contribute to his work, but also expose it to the audience it never had. It is the official video.”

If you’re into Jacob’s style, then check out his equally killer vid for The Walkmen’s “On The Water”:

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eric whitacre: lux aurumque.

My head is filled with so many thing right now. This, hands down, is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. And the genesis of how it came to be makes it even more beautiful.

Los Angeles-based composer and conductor Eric Whitacre has taken the notion of crowd-sourcing to a new level. An artistic, sincere, sonically communal level. He used his blog, his Facebook page, and YouTube to audition hundreds of singers to virtually perform his newest choral work, “Lux Aurumque.” The chosen 185 vocalists, from 12 different countries, were sent the sheet music and each individually videoed themselves performing their part. Whitacre and his team then synched them together and created a video of a virtual choir, complete with all the singers, in video form, standing like a choir with a video of Whitacre himself conducting from the centre.

The result soars. There’s no other word for it. I pressed play and the world slipped by and I felt like I was nowhere and everywhere at once.

To me, the formation of the choir itself is such a lovely metaphor in itself: instead of just coming together vocally, this group was brought together across the means of separation that held them apart – distance, language, and the reality of their lives – to be brought together by a common love of singing and a common access to the internet. The digital world has the possibility to unite us in so many new ways.

Humbly, I don’t love the annotations at the beginning of the vid (I think they’re tacky and amateurish) and the purple and blue “lights” are sort of killing me (though I get that it’s reminiscent of choir theatre lighting, which isn’t always the greatest). I would LOVE to see what a real motion designer would do to create a visual interpretation of the virtual choir that’s as exquisitely haunting as the sound of it. For some reason, director Asif Mian is the first one that popped into my head. I’d kill to see Mian create a video for something like this.

Via Mashable

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caribou + video marsh: odessa.

There are very few things I’m as excited about this Spring as Caribou’s upcoming “Swim”, scheduled to drop April 20. Caribou (and now drummer Brad Weber’s amazing, percussion-crazy side project Pick A Piper) is one of my favourite musical entities ever. I hesitate to call them a “band”, because I feel that they’re more than that. An evolution of instrumentation and style that puts them one step ahead.

The “Odessa” mp3 was released online a little while ago, but I’ve been waiting for the video before posting. Happy days are here, thanks to Video Marsh, with a hazy, soft, memory-filled video. The video is very open to interpretation, which I like; it’s evocative but extremely unspecific. To me, it’s like the feeling you get from a smell: undeniably strong but hard to necessarily put into words.

I’m sure Caribou (or any artist really) doesn’t want to be categorized or pegged to a nationality, but I love how Canadian this footage is. They’re not playing stereotypes but they’re not shying away from the winter-ness that we all intrinsically know.  It’s our secret handshake, and they’re offering a hand. Like looking at an old $2 bill; nobody would totally get it but us.

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Via Stereogum

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02.19.10: jump jump dance dance, why?, kid sam, under byen.

jump jump dance dance + claire carré: show me the night.

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why? + agustin carbonere: these hands.

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kid sam + sherwin akbarzadeh: we’re mostly made of water.

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Under Byen + Sidste Carsens: Alt Er Tabt.

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dmitry fyodorov + markus waltå: simcoe.

There’s something unsettlingly intimate yet oddly fascinating about watching strangers eat. Not every bodily function becomes social, and as far as bodily functions go the range of experiences possible within the act of eating are pretty unlimited. There aren’t too many different ways to breathe and blink and heartbeat and cell divide; eating, however, is almost infinite.

Infinite in its goodness, but also in its grotesqueness. In his video for Swedish electro-duo Dmitry Fyodorov’s “Simcoe”, the first track off their upcoming album “Shapeless”, SektorFilm director Markus Waltå whips up a rhythmic orgy of mundane food moments. The blankness, the shovelling, the swallowing without chewing. All of this, contemplating in close-up what each of these subjects are thinking (or trying not to think of) as they eat, builds slowly into the one thing that’s more satisfying to do with food than to eat it: to fight with it.

Via Antville

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alan poon + zeus: marching through your head.

Canadian Alan Poon directed one of my favourite music videos of all time, 2008’s incredible macro-masterpiece for Bowerbirds’ “In Our Talons.” That track was a fiery lament against man’s destruction of the natural world, and Poon created a perfect visual to accompany it: a twisted, contorted microscopic look at our affect on the Earth and everything else that isn’t us.

In his latest, for  Zeus’ “Marching Through Your Head”, he continues to examine stop-motion and hyper-realistic nature imagery to create a dreamy, sharp, saturated landscape. This time, with a more light-hearted track, he gets to be humorous and play with marching shoes that grow bushes which turn into Zeus who jam, appropriately, in a ruin on the top of a mountain.

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Via Motionographer

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efterklang + kristian leth: modern drift.

I first discovered Danish experimental pop collective Efterklang when some of their music was featured in Jeremiah Zagar’s brilliant family autobiographical film “In A Dream.” Both the film and the music were some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

Efterklang’s sound is ethereal and dreamy and huge. Luckily, it leaves itself so open to visual interpretation. Not a blank canvas, but a launching pad, ready to propel the song into whatever video the lucky director gets to imagine.

For “Modern Drift”, that director is Danish multi-media artist Kristian Leth. The song is gorgeous, and for it Leth has sewn together a stunning and simple vision of nature and life that is achingly lovely.

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pick a piper.

Caribou is easily one of the best things that’s happened to music in the last ten years. I remember where I was sitting the first time I heard “Melody Day” and tripped over myself to find out who was making that colossal, layered, glorious mash-up of sound. I didn’t think it could, but it gets better, courtesy of Caribou drummer Brad Weber…

Pick A Piper is a collective from Weber along with Angus Fraser, Dan Roberts, and Clint Scrivener. They leave no sonic stone unturned: flute, trumpets, glockenspiel, flutes, hand claps, bells, and basically anything you can hit to make a sound. But more than anything it’s the percussion assault that gets you. Their music doesn’t just have a beat, it’s multi-rhythmic. It’s expansive, it’s communal. It feels put together from the best parts of a bunch of disparate sounds that only make sense when they’re together.

It feels like it could be chanted. It loops and soars and doesn’t sound like it will ever need to stop, because it’s nothing as easy to know as lyric-chorus-lyric-chorus-bridge-chorus. It’s timeless, like it might have just been dug out of the ground, and it’s also joyous, like it might have been passed down to them from generations. It sounds like happily putting your arm around someone when you’re drunk and staring into a campfire.

So far they’ve only released a 4-song EP, I’ve listened to it constantly for two days. I demand a full-length album. …Please.

For now, stop what you’re doing and listen to my favourite tracks, “Dene Sled” and “Hallam Progress”:

Plus check out a grainy, colourful, almost pre-digital looking video, directed by Weber himself, for their single “Rooms.”

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