Until recently, ten million people visited the Louvre each year in Paris. A few of them are captured on an 11-hour slow motion film by Jennifer Anderson and Vernon Lott that squalls into the Museum’s Denon Wing and Salle des États, home to the most famous painting in the world. 80% of visitors only want to see the Mona Lisa, says the Gallery’s former director, but the film silently disputes the meaning of that interaction, showing how our experience of art and culture can be technologically altered and mediated. Selfie sticks become the embodiment of Stewart Lee’s critique of social media and the modern psychosis it cultivates; tourism is just “an endless succession of your face obscuring an endless succession of things that are more interesting than your face”, and now in slow motion.
The sophomore collaborative album by David Allred and Peter Broderick, What the Fog, is a 42-minute extraction from the original score to the film. Wisps of ceremony and ritual are dissolved in drones from the gossamer brass splashed across ‘The Foghorn’ to its uncannily rhythmic sister part in ‘Shadow Diver’. Strands of structured song disperse into grain and light piano melodies as the duo’s slow-moving landscapes will to be unraveled. Highlights come in hushes; the soft swells of ‘Sky Swamp’ wallow in introspective ambience, while moments of excitement are steadily drowned in minute apathy, gauzy synths and a Theremin-like wonder (‘Crystal Flower’).
Swapping the sonic solitude of their vocal-heavy Erased Tapes debut for a wholly instrumental follow-up, even the easy listening passages glimmer with intrigue. When the melodies don’t lock with their undeniable beauty (the closing moments of ‘Outer Lands’ is a particular highlight), they carry a quiet curiosity as if you were hearing it through a neighbour’s wall, ready to reassess how you engage with the world.
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