Madison-based ambient-electronic music-maker John Praw wears many hats, and now he can add "soundtrack composer" to his headwear collection. The artist formerly known as [praw] teamed with filmmaker friend Raquel Salazar to create a video before releasing his new self-titled album, which explores the finer points of minimalism. Though the track "Black Fog" doesn't appear on the album, it serves as an excellent prelude.
Salazar culled footage from a 2009 trip to several cities in Chile -- including Santiago, Zapallar, Maitencillo, Papudo, Chiloe and Horcones -- and collaged them into a piece of art that's moving, both literally and figuratively. The visual journey begins with a shot of drab, run-down houses and a few frames of waves crashing against rocks. The camera glimpses the sky through a clothesline of laundry fluttering in the wind, followed by a black-and-white moment where a boat navigates its way through dense fog.
As the imagery unfolds, an ethereal piano loop enters. At first it sounds hazy. Later it sounds as if it's underwater. Meanwhile, the film flashes from scenes of city streets and soccer games to water-themed footage: foamy waves, brightly colored ships, and a horse wading through the ocean.
The song wasn't composed with the footage in mind. "Raquel was interested in working on an abstract video for one of my ambient pieces, so I sent her a few to choose from," says Praw. "I gave her 100% freedom with the video, and she wasn't allowed to tell me which piece she chose to make a video for until it was done."
With a mix of black-and-white footage, vintage-looking colored shots, and scenes viewed through a mysterious oval hole, the video has a dreamlike quality, wading through other people's memories with a variety of emotions. Meanwhile, the piano repeats four notes of a scale that sound happy one moment and melancholy another. The end result is a feeling of joy as colorful houses replace the drab ones and the soccer players hug at the end of their match.
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