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WATCH: Marconi Union Video
The Quietus , July 5th, 2012 07:52

Manchester trio explain old film-footage sourced new vid

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Manchester based purveyors of warm ambience Marconi Union have recently released excellent new album Different Colours, a record of quiet evocation - perhaps it's the name, but while the Quietus listens we imagine those ancient cables, stretching from rocks, under sands, and then far across the ocean floor. We dropped them a line to find out more about the video for 'Flying (In Crimson Skies') that you can watch above.

What was the visual inspiration behind the video?

Marconi Union: We'd been working with our friend Karl from dotca on visuals to use when we play live. He gave us a call one night and explained the scenario, 'I know this may seem a bit weird but I've just been playing 'Flying' with some images of hula girls dancing and it just seems to work in every way'. We were totally unconvinced by the sound of this, it really wasn't the kind of imagery we were thinking of. However, we've known Karl a long time and we've always trusted his judgement so we got together and he played us the footage and it just seemed perfect, so we all agreed immediately.

Where did you find the footage?

MU: Karl had got hold of some old projectors and he'd been experimenting with them. He started buying a lot of old 16mm films off eBay, private and industry collections even from car boot sales. The hula girls where part of a private collection of some unknown guy documenting a trip to America sometime in the 60's, he'd obviously made the trip to Hawaii and that's where this footage came from.

Why did you want to use that method?

MU: After we saw how well this worked we became really interested in the idea of using visuals that had no (in theory) connection with the music but just worked as good footage. We would never of thought 'let's use some dancing hula girls,' that's not the kind of imagery that we were discussing, however, when we saw how the movement of the girls dancing sat right with the music we were sold on this as an approach for our live visuals. It set us on the path of thinking what visually works best with the music as opposed to any deep meaning or direct reference to it.

What have been the inspirations for the new music?

MU: We initially set out clear plans to write pieces with more structured arrangements, play in different time signatures and to use a few different sounds. We wanted to try and create simple melodies played by what appears to be an ensemble as opposed to a soloist, an almost jazz orchestrated feel a la Gil Evans and Bernard Herrmann's style, obviously we wanted to do this within the parameters of Marconi Union, we don't profess to be jazz musicians and we certainly haven't made a jazz album but we have absorbed some of those influences.

'Flying In Crimson Skies' is a very evocative title. Where did that come from?

MU: It initially had a working title of 'Krimson', this came about from the initial riff from where the track started, even though it was played on keyboard it almost had a Robert Fripp/King Crimson guitar sound and feel about it, hence it became jokingly known as 'Krimson'. As the track developed and became more structured it started to give us that sense of floating away, birds flying, planes thousand of feet up in the sky with the feeling of nothing else around, a kind of peaceful narcotic haze on a perfect summers day. So the word flying cropped up more and more and we eventually came up with the title.

What are your plans for the rest of 2012?

MU: We would like to go out and play live to promote Different Colours but it's difficult to find the right events and to convince the organisers they need to book Marconi Union. We're playing Punkt Festival in Norway in Autumn and there's a few other things that might happen but need to be signed off.

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