Just a wild guess, but I’m guessing everyone could use a moment of transcendent peace right about now. “The feeling of being held while you open your heart.” Well, yeah, sign me up for that.
Thomas Vanz, the filmmaker who has had a long-running, eye-popping collaboration with producer Max Cooper, this time makes animations for Ólafur Arnalds. Twinkling trails like a fairy rocket launch burst into the sky; glowing ice-crystal, blossoming tendrils of stardust spread from planet-like orbs. It’s a microcosm or macrocosm or – digital 4K pixie dust. But it’s certainly entrancing.
Vanz’ motion joins a chillingly lovely Arnalds jam, glassy strings over whispering close-miked piano hammers and of course a vocal that sounds like it was sung by a wintry forest spirit.
It’s like inhaling that first breath of air after a fresh snow, so let’s enjoy (Thomas’ first-ever 4K video):
The Ólafur Arnalds release in question dropped quietly on the 6th. The composer writes:
Woven Song was one of the first songs I wrote for ‘some kind of peace’ but ended up becoming a defining moment of the writing process. It is a metaphor for being embraced by something larger than yourself while exploring new territories, the feeling of being held while you open your heart.
If music can do that for people, even a little a bit, even a few people, even occasionally, then what a wondrous thing music is to make and to hear.
The full album and video are available via one of those link lists. (Every time I’m skeptical of Bandcamp, I do remember … this. But you can buy an old-fashioned CD, which is tempting.)
Also worth checking out, Magnetic mag went and did a little studio tour and gear run-down. There are some true classics – a Studer console, a Nagra IV-S for mobile tape recording, the vintage AKG C12a mic.
There’s some really rare stuff, too, though. He’s got a Korg PS-3100, of which only 600 were made. It weighs 30kg, so … good for lockdown, I guess? This was in 1977 when KORG went a bit insane with polyphony and decided to make one circuit per key. I don’t mean paraphony, either; each key has its own dedicated filter, amplitude, and envelope generator. (Maybe ’77 was the year KORG engineering discovered LSD.) Clone that. There’s also a pair of Roland SRE-555 tape echoes. (Roland Australia has written up a nice blog piece tracing the history of the Space Echo, including the 555.)
Also, behind the scenes:
I have to say, that tune catchy, Ólafur. It’s about time I had a chilled-out Icelandic earworm following me around in the winter. I suppose Berlin should respond with its own brand of winter ambient, though ours may need to sound more like a muddy puddle?
Anyway, Thomas Vanz is a glowing young talent from France whose films take a sparkling organic sci-fi bent. Check his Vimeo page and gallery/site for more films, especially those collaborations with Max Cooper and Darius. Or, take this journey through the cosmos with still more pretty musical bits (courtesy pianist Julien Marchal and violinist and mix engineer Jonathan Fitas plus Thomas himself):