Music is generous – it gives itself to other art. But eventually you reach a breaking point, as every screen and speaker fights for attention. The question becomes: how much more can music give?The easy answer is more tabloid pages, more photo-shoots and high-risk wardrobes. And often the sound suffers.
One eskimO’s answer is more media: more ways to experience music. The Adventures of One eskimO is composed of ten tracks and ten videos. The tracks make up an album and the videos tell a story. But this is one project; the band and the animation play in one performance. And they are pushing for a new digital category: the graphic album.
Adventures the album has that restless acoustic texture, a confused dynamic with the character of Nizlopi or Gotye. The band tour with Paolo Nutini this September, and offer the Red Bull Lite counterpoint: less sugary, more manic. There are liquid melodies and careful songcraft, shot through with feeling. It is a sound working itself out – lit with a vocal and instrumental energy that will not settle.
Adventures the film is a romantic fantasia from the team behind the Gorillaz music videos. One eskimO goes in search of his lost love Little Feather, floating through a wide-eyed anime wonderland. The dreamscapes are built from exploding symmetries, with a charm of details that recall the award-winning talent of the artists.
The performance, the pairing of the two, is harder to place. The idea is not cover art given a CGI treatment, or the next stage of the iTunes visualiser. The album does not narrate the film, and the film does not illustrate the album. Yet they explore each other – giving equal weight to sights and sound. They are not co-dependent, but in the end they complete one another.
This is not the revolution: music and video is not a new idea. Also, the relationship between the two media is not clear: the fairytale visuals of a Disney fable seem at odds with the expressive identity of the music. Then there is the marketing trick: the animation needs its audience to download all ten of its tracks, and drums up a toddler fanbase for free.
But there is another, better reason Warner Brothers are trying to take this project mainstream: The Adventures of One eskimO is a way for music to give more. A graphic album changes the way you look and listen. It stretches you.