The last time we mentioned Australian plunderphonics group; The Avalanches, we were attempting to read into the cryptic imagery left on their social media pages. It saw an image of a golden butterfly embroidered onto black, this was all fans had to discuss. Yet it came to be one of the most positive of the extremely scarce updates given by the band in the 15+ years since the release of their first and then only full length, Since I Left You.
8 months old by now, Wildflower most definitely won over fans. Its naturally rough in places attitude, genius sampling, clever guest vocals and mission to the celebrate the “‘little things’, the beauty in the often unnoticed and overlooked, and the magic and wonder of the ‘other’ side of life that most of us have either forgotten, lost touch with or are just too busy to notice anymore.” Reasons why many were quick to forgive the passing of time. That and the acceptance of the arguably modest but welcome apology of “Sorry, it’s been a while…” which titled the band’s email introducing Wildflower, and from which their quote above is taken.
9 months ago we were teased with the very first music video from this new era and 3 more since, as innovative and attention grabbing as we have come to expect from the group. The insane Frankie Sinatra was the first, a mesmerising audio-visual for Colours came second, animated Subways followed and the last to be released in October of ’16, Because I’m Me.
With the band playing shows over the winter period and gearing up for a number of festival slots and headliners in the coming months, the AV side of Avalanches releases might take a back seat for a while. Fortunately however there’s a number of really talented people working in this area, combining their skills with a love for what the band have created, which will help to fill this void.
We found a perfect example of this recently, a music video made for Wildflower track: If I Was A Folkstar, created by Harry Wakeling, a graphic design student studying in the UK.
…Folkstar is a track full of reminisce, with flowing melodies, softly sung lyrics provided by Toro y Moi, it’s the sound of a sunset drive into the distance.
Take a listen to the full track below.
Seafront asked Harry about the work and how it was created, with the eye-catching video sandwiched between his comments below.
“This was the outcome from one of our latest briefs where we had to make a sequence between 30 seconds and three minutes. I chose to make a music video for the Avalanches because I’ve been a long-time fan of their music and I felt like they would complement the style I was attempting to achieve. I tried to visualise the concept behind their new album and how it is loosely about a journey from a city to the beach. I used analogue techniques to get that old glitchy style you see throughout the video. The effect used on the type at the beginning is called video feedback.”
“I also used an audio/visual enhancer to glitch the footage. It’s original use is to improve the quality of a VHS tape by changing the brightness/contrast etc, however with the right modifications to the circuit you can glitch the signal, resulting in very vibrant colours. I also went filming around Dorset to film all of the footage, particularly at Durdle Door. I plan to work on more projects like this in the future; I am currently working on an installation using video feedback on a larger scale.”
We think it’s an extremely interesting method of working and definitely produces the ‘look’ of the song. The warp, distortion and pushing of saturation is what we here see ourselves in our heads when listening to …Folkstar. As mentioned, it’s a track to us which is full of reminisce, underlined by the first couple of words sung… “I remember when…”
As people, when we do think back it can regularly be distorted or we remember things not quite as they happened. Harry’s video provides a visual representation of this. His shots of the ocean and beach, fair and street scenes are like the snapshots we carry around with us in our heads, yet up there they won’t remain precisely as they were, this is what we’re seeing in the video.
Another sense we get with this great piece is similar to the way in which we’re aware The Avalanches work. We know all the footage is shot by Harry himself, but with the hark back to the format of VHS, the …Folkstar video feels like a collection of ‘found footage’, as if taken by holiday makers to remember their trips. Now, all of this video has been brought together to create this brand new piece of work.
An Avalanches production as we know is near enough completely made from samples found by the guys, regularly in the bargain buckets of thrift or charity stores. So the suggestible ‘found material’ similarity creates a fantastic connection between the video and song.
Interestingly too, we can throw in a comparison with one of art’s greatest names, in the form of Claude Monet. This is mainly thanks to Harry’s choice of subject to include in places within the video, Durdle Door, but also due to the creative manner in which the resulting imagery has been processed.
Below we can see a comparison of a screenshot from the featured video next to one of Monet’s paintings created in Étretat, located in the Normandy region of northern France.
(L) Screenshot from …Folkstar video. (R) Les Falaises d’Aval avec la Porte et l’Aiguille  by Claude Monet. (www.kunstmuseumbasel.ch)
An impressionist in the art world, Monet’s land and seascapes would regularly be painted briskly, in order to catch the light at the artist’s most desired point. Some of the paintings created in Étretat would go from start to finish in just 3/4 of an hour, meaning his images were quite simply impressions of the places which he’s painted. With no time to make accurate and detailed studies the artworks come alive thanks to the quick brush strokes and vivid colours.
This practice of making art outside was a new thing to painters at the time with the introduction of portable easels and tubed oil paints. These colours now also came in a wider range and producing better results than ever before, allowing masters such as Monet to capture his exact impression of the whatever-scapes in front of him.
This play on colour and an enhanced saturation of it is exactly what Harry has achieved in his work, and both interpretations of the similar subject seen above, present a nostalgia reflected in the memories of every one of us.
We couldn’t think of a more suitable vision than that of Harry’s to place alongside one of Wildflower’s most acclaimed tracks and with a ‘like’ from the band on a previous share of the video, we definitely think they’d agree.
We’ll let these agreeable users from Reddit have the last word.
Harry plans to have a website live soon with a portfolio of work, in the meantime though you can check out his Vimeo page here.You can also follow Harry on Instagram here.
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