David Knight - 18th May 2021

Worlds exist within worlds, which are successively ripped asunder, in Swedish filmmaker Gustaf Holtenäs awe-inspiring epic of the imagination for Black Midi.

Holtenäs has created a brilliant tour de force in different animation styles and live action for the London-based experimental rock band's six-minute track Slow, taken from their new album Cavalcade (released 28th May).

It begins with a story in line-drawn 2D animated robot boy determinedly travelling across an extraordinarily detailed futuristic city to face an implacable foe in an extraordinary high-rise - and suffering a horrible fate. Then it switches to a 3D world to a lance-wielding knight, calming walking to a forbidding tower, before he perishes as that 3D universe begins to unravel and corrupt.

The revealed inner workings of the glitching 3D breaks ito what seems like realistic live action, and the staid life of a woman who appears to be the creator of these previous characters and their adventures. But when she opts to confront an alien invasion force that is approaching Earth, she also suffers a grisly fate.

This repetitive, 'Russian doll' structure of the video is only part of the pleasure of a work that Gustaf Holtenäs has drawn from a wide range of influences, from fantasy illustration and literature. The eclectic nature of these influences - often referencing artwork from past centuries - informs a visual aesthetic which reflects the bold, experimental nature of the music. It also sets the scene for the climax of the piece - a blockbuster of cosmic destruction - and rebirth...

Stockholm-based Holtenäs has been working in 2D animation for some years, but recently directed the experimental short film Aries for Swedish band Holy - and co-directed two imposing 3D animated for Swedish organist and composer Anna von Hausswolff with his brother Ludwig Holtenäs. He was approached by Black Midi in February, and asked if he could deliver the video for the six-minute track Slow by the beginning of April.

"I wanted to create something crazy with like every technique I’ve learned over the years," Holtenäs tells Promonews. "Also because Black Midi wanted the video in such a short time, it seemed impossible to make a six minute hand-animated video in a decent quality. Because that art form is the most time consuming.

"So the idea of creating a lot of different visuals was something that was accomplishable, but also made it more interesting. I felt that the nerdy reddit/4chan fans of Black Midi could appreciate a really complex and paradoxical narrative. Cause I sure do. The story is like a mix of Lars von Trier's Melancholia and Nolan's Inception."

A stunning achievement.

Credits

DirectorGustaf Holtenäs
Lead AnimatorGustaf Holtenäs
2D AnimatorJoel Widerberg
3D AnimatorLudvig Holtenäs
3D AnimatorMartin Onassis
Other creditsPhoto assistant: Kajsa Lorentzon Lead actor: Aila Esko

David Knight - 18th May 2021

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