A Cinematic Live Session From the Uncompromising British Musicians
These New Puritans give a taste of their forthcoming American tour in today’s live music video, co-directed by the experimental band and Phil Poole. The performance of “Island Song” at Electric Brixton in London was captured by multiple cameras, showcasing the group's elegiac third record Field of Reeds, which has drawn high praise from such notable figures as Elton John and Björk. “The motivation for coming to the US this time was the positive reaction to the two Hollywood Bowl shows we played with Björk last year,” says songwriter Jack Barnett, who formed These New Puritans while at school in Essex, southeast England with his twin, drummer George Barnett, and their friend Thomas Hein. This ‘septet’ incarnation of the group includes honey-voiced Portuguese singer Elisa Rodrigues alongside French horn, flugelhorn and keyboard players. Before they leave for the States, the band will embark on their most ambitious show yet at the Barbican in April, with a corresponding exhibition at the Strand. “There will be thirty or more musicians on stage,” says Jack. “From chromatic gong players to Adrian Peacock, the basso profundo singer who has one of the lowest voices in the country: during the album recording, it was amazing to hear some of the frequencies that came out of him.”
TNP Expanded takes place at London’s Barbican on April 17. The US tour begins April 30 in New York. Field of Reeds is available here.
The Provocative Slovenian Industrial Group Return With a Visual Manifesto
Taken from Laibach’s uncategorizable forthcoming album Spectre, the rousing synth-pop of “The Whistleblowers” is inspired by provocateurs such as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, continuing the band’s long-established critique of power and political freedoms. “They predicted the downfall of Yugoslavia through their music,” says
Norwegian director Morten Traavik of his most recent collaborators. “Now they’re back in sync with what’s happening.” Formed in 1980 in Trbovlje, Slovenia, Laibach started the Neue Slowenische Kunst art movement, which eventually became a ‘virtual country’ complete with its own passport, amassing a vast collective body of work that was showcased at London’s Tate Modern in 2012. The nostalgic and utopian feel of today's song is matched by a video that stars a group of young athletes from Riga, Latvia. “It was shot using a one-of-a-kind LOMO camera lens from the Soviet Union,” says Traavik. “This resulted in this extreme widescreen format, much like a three-stripe national flag with the video as the middle stripe.” The director’s 2012 clip of a North Korean accordion band performing A-Ha's “Take On Me”
shared the group’s playful exploration of patriotism and nationhood, while
accruing two million YouTube views: “We felt straight away that this is a Laibach-kinda person,” say the band.
Spectre is Out March 3 on Mute.
Benjamin Millepied Fills a Bright Dead Sea Landscape with the Experimental Artist’s Brooding Music
“I first saw Billy Barry perform at Juilliard four years ago,” says the acclaimed French choreographer, filmmaker and photographer Benjamin Millepied. “I thought, ‘Who is this creature?’ Billy’s quality as a dancer is so otherworldly, I immediately knew I wanted to create a portrait of him. The sense of solitude depicted in the film reflects just how different he is as an artist.” The chance to direct today’s music video for British artist Forest Swords’ haunting track “The Weight of Gold” presented an intriguing opportunity for Millepied, who was seduced after being inspired by Israel’s Dead Sea area’s landscape, including the Judean desert and Nebi Musa site that is dedicated to Moses. “We arrived at a beautiful location and I just let the music and the desert move me instead of forcing it,” says Barry, the young flaxen-haired dancer who earned a spot at Tel Aviv’s prestigious Batsheva Ensemble straight out of school. “I listened to the music a lot before the shoot and on the day we just went with what happened naturally.” Below Forest Swords, AKA Matthew Barnes, explores the musical side of this creative collaboration.
I grew up listening to a lot of mainstream pop music, and I was fascinated with the production and structure of it. Then I gradually got into punk, hip-hop and electronic music. All that filters into the type of sounds, melodies and textures I’m attracted to now, though it’s difficult to be objective about that kind of thing when you’re making it.
The track “The Weight of Gold” came together fairly slowly. I pieced it together over a few weeks, adding and subtracting until it felt right and I mixed it outdoors like the rest of the record.
The locations Benjamin picked for this video really resonate with the track. I’ve always associated the songs from my album Engravings with a British landscape—woodland and sandstone, because that’s the environment I live and produced the record in. Taking the music out of that context and placing it in Israel definitely shifts the track in a direction I did not expect.