Magical visual manipulators of sea life Coral Morphologic, comprised of Colin Foord and Jared McKay, not only landed a spot at the Borscht Film Festival, screening their short "Man O War," but also an original soundtrack for the film by Animal Collective's Geologist.
Lucky for the Morphologic guys, he's not just a geologist on stage, he's also an active environmentalist who has worked for the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries. And the electronic composer's typically abstract sounds, seem like a perfect complement to the dreamy ocean imagery of "Man O War."
The film is part of the Floridian 'Natural History' series, and will show, in macroscopic detail, the transparent tendrils of a Poruguese man-o-war's tentacles. We spoke with Coral Morphologic about the details of this collaboration.
Crossfade: Could you tell me how you got in touch with Geologist and Animal Collective?
Coral Morphologic: We first got in touch with Animal Collective when Lolo from Sweat Records brought their Danny Perez-directed art film, Oddsac to Grand Central last year. I met Danny and Josh (Deakin) who were there to talk about the film, and it turns out that Josh, along with Brian (Geologist), are avid scuba divers. A couple months later we got an email from Brian expressing an interest in composing a soundtrack for one of our 'Natural History' films. It turns out that he has a Master's degree from Columbia University in marine/environmental policy and when not performing with Animal Collective he works behind the scenes for ocean advocacy non-profits in DC where he lives. Dude is really admirable all around.
The music is all original and created for the film?
Yes, once Geologist had gotten in touch with us, we knew we had to find a creature that was pretty surreal. I happened across a Portuguese man-o-war last summer, CAREFULLY collected it offshore of Miami, immediately filmed and photographed it, before releasing it again unharmed. We sent him the edited film, and then he composed a soundtrack that is synced to the movements of the tentacles. We thought that Borscht would be a cool venue - the tentacles create a 'living curtain' that will look awesome in the Knight Concert hall.
Image from "Man O War."
Are you guys Animal Collective fans? Do you have a favorite album of theirs (not sure if this is the dumbest question ever)?
For sure! We were first introduced to them when Animal Collective played Poplife at the I/O Lounge (now Vagabond) in 2004. As far as personal nostalgia goes, "Feels" is my favorite, but "Merriweather Post-Pavilion" comes close, especially because I recall reading that they wanted it to convey the imagery of a shallow coral reef lagoon with that album.
What came first, the idea to make a film, or this collaboration with Geologist?
We spent the first half of 2010 making our 'Natural History' films, and releasing them on our blog each week. We would create aquarium "sets", I would do the filming, Jared would compose the soundtracks, and we'd edit them together. We challenged ourselves to complete the films in just a day or two. The 'Natural History' films have been really successful, getting featured on a variety of websites that cater to wide range of demographics (NPR to Complex Magazine). So the idea to make a 'Natural History' film with the Portuguse man-o-war always existed, but we hadn't anticipated that Geologist would compose the soundtrack. We look forward to making more of these films that are part of an engaging educational curriculum for local students. Marine science is cool!
How do you think the soundtrack complements the images in the film and what can we expect to see up there on the big screen?
Geologist did an amazing job complimenting the film. It's two and half minutes spent in ultra-close proximity with one of the most deadly animals on the planet, and the sounds he used are apt at reflecting a creature that is at once beautiful, ominous and visually surreal.
Man O War as part of the Borscht Film Festival. Saturday, April 23. Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. The film screens at 7:30 p.m. Call 305-949-6722 or visit arshtcenter.org.
Liz has her master’s degree in religion from Florida State University. She has since written for publications and outlets such as Miami New Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Ocean Drive, the Huffington Post, NBC Miami, Time Out Miami, Insomniac, the Daily Dot, and the Atlantic. Liz spent three years as New Times Broward-Palm Beach’s music editor, was the weekend news editor at Inverse, and is currently the managing editor at Tom Tom Magazine.