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April 18, 2014

How We Used to Live

Paul Kelly and Saint Etienne Go Back to the Future in a Paean to 20th-Century Living

“It’s been talked of as an ‘anti-nostalgic nostalgia film,’” says Travis Elborough, who co-wrote How We Used to Live with Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley. “We tried to make a portrait of the past but one that you can swim around in, as if you’re living it.” Excerpted in today’s retro-futuristic snapshot of the dawn of the computer age, the poetic trawl through a not-so-distant London is directed by Paul Kelly, who has already collaborated with the pioneering British electronic-pop band on Finisterre (2003), What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? (2005) and This is Tomorrow (2007). Weaving together analog color footage of the city from 1950 to 1980 sourced from the archive of the British Film Institute, it reawakens the vibrancy of a lost time with the aid of effervescent new music by Saint Etienne's Sarah Cracknell and Pete Wiggs, as well as a narration by Deadwood’s Ian McShane. “The future is never quite what you’d expect it to be, just as the past isn’t either,” says Elborough, whose reputation as a pop-historian has burgeoned in recent years with his books London Bridge in America and Beside the Seaside. “A lot of the footage is looking towards this bright tomorrow,” adds Kelly. “We’ve used it to look back, so we’ve kind of reversed the purpose.”

How We Used to Live will be screened at Southend-on-Sea Film Festival on May 5, and with a first ever live performance of the score by Saint Etienne at the Sheffield Documentary Festival on June 12.

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Delorean: Unhold

A New York Sculpture Park Hosts a Union of the Barcelona Band and Chairlift's Caroline Polachek

Brooklyn indie star Caroline Polachek traverses a bluestone maze like a warped Red Riding Hood in the video for “Unhold” by Barcelona-based Glasser and The xx collaborators, Delorean. The film's location is the Opus 40 sculpture park, created by American artist Harvey Fite, who transformed a former quarry in New York State into a bewitching public space over nearly four decades from the late 1930s. It was chosen by Grammy-nominated director Eric Epstein for its beguiling geometric details: “We were looking for an outdoor location to contrast with the studio, with dimensions to make use of the effect we were using,” he says. “The moving footage is resolved to a flat plane, so that everything in relief from that surface skews and stretches.” Epstein has previously worked with Polachek’s shoegaze pop outfit Chairlift, and his latest video accompanies the new single from today's featured Spanish quartet’s album Apar, recorded in the band’s own studio in the Catalan neighborhood of Poblenou with Friendly Fires producer Chris Zane. “The track has this sway to it that I thought could be complimented by the visuals,” says the director. “And to me the lyrics evoke misunderstanding and clashing perspectives, which seemed somewhat fitting for the approach we took.”

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Sunrise, Sunset: Washed Out

A Dawn Chorus from the Psychedelic Dreamer Heralds a New Series with Yours Truly

“It was interesting to see the changes in color that happen over the course of two or three hours,” says Ernest Greene, aka Washed Out, describing the spectacle of the Californian coast before dawn that kicks off Sunrise, Sunset, a new NOWNESS series created by music filmmaking collective Yours Truly. “I can’t remember the last time I slowed down enough to soak all of that in.” The film segues from the beauty of beachside town Carmel into a hushed early morning performance of “Paracosm,” the eponymous track from the Sup Pop signing’s second album. Written in and around Greene’s countryside home outside Athens, Georgia, the album’s electronic flourishes and dreamlike aesthetic chime with the picturesque landscape captured here. “The week before the band arrived, we went out on adventures along a stretch from Carmel to Monterey and down to Big Sur,” says director Babak Khoshnoud, who in 2009 co-founded Yours Truly alongside William Abramson and Nate Chan. “It reminded us of the sounds and visuals that the record contains; it’s a soundtrack to summer, regardless of the season.”

Look out for NOWNESS' bespoke dusk and dawn collaborations with Yours Truly during the coming months.

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