We firmly believe that music has an alliance with each of the four seasons. A few years ago, someone asked Michael Angelakos when the next Passion Pit record would be released, and he answered that he really didn’t know; that if the album had a summer vibe, it would be released then, but if it felt more appropriate for winter, its unveiling and promotional schedule would be reassessed.
For Boston experimental chamber-pop songwriter and harpist Audrey Harrer, that notion held true for her latest record, January’s Alphabet Rain. Its moody textures and layers of sound felt right alongside a fireplace deep within the woods, a warm core surrounded by exterior coldfronts. It’s closing track, “The Sunbathers”, stretched out and yearned for something different; perhaps it was a torch passed from one season to another, the end of winter giving way to a musical thaw and the welcoming of spring. And like most New Englanders, the first thing we do at the onset of spring is head to the coast.
And that’s exactly where Harrer heads in the video for “The Sunbathers”, which we are excited to premiere today on Vanyaland. The clip, a rhapsodic dance film starring Boston Ballet principal dancer John Lam and filmed by Harrer and Jeannie Greeley, can be viewed below via Vimeo.
“I call this an alt-chamber art song, and I think of it as a series of three daydreams,” Harrer tells Vanyaland. “I play harp and sing, joined by cello and bassoon. It was produced by my good friend Christopher McLaughlin at 1867 Recording Studio, and we focused on the subtle use of mic placement and studio effects to enhance meaning and create modern details. John Lam was in a video project I did a few years ago, and he was the first person I thought to reach out to. He is an exquisitely talented performer, super kind, and open to trying new things. Also, he has such a striking look and captivating presence.
Harrer first sent the song to Lam, and one recent afternoon headed to the long stretch of sand along New Hampshire’s Hampton Beach. “There would be enough space for John to dance, and if we shot him close with a wide-angle lens, we’d get small details of beachgoers in the frame,” Harrer says. “On the day of the shoot, there were heavy thunderstorms and we had to take shelter in the lobby of a motel for nearly an hour. The bright side is that it made the clouds look fantastic. Between downpours, John improvised to the recording and we did about four takes. I worked with the footage for a bit to interpret his movement in relationship to the song, and shot the additional projections at my studio, Magnolia Loft.”
That’s also the site where Harrer will be performing a few times in the coming weeks, highlighted by an August 17 evening of psychedelic dream folk with Baltimore experimental artist Marian McLaughlin, Anne Malin Ringwalt, and Crispin Swank.