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The Bright Determination of F/E/A’s “PL5″

FEA 2018 2 - Ana Isern

Spain’s F/E/A (Forces Elèctriques d’Andorra), an arty post-rock band, has a new video out for their song “PL5” which is set to appear on the band’s 2019 not-yet-titled full-length. What are we seeing here? Well, a lot, if you’re game. The payoff is naturally determined by the desire the viewer/listener has in investing in the total portrait.

The music is rocking and noisy: post-rock meets Bitches Brew without all the industrial horn sequences (there are horns here, but they’re very Man With The Horn-like) and funk. It’s good stuff, with a sprinkling of Acid Mothers Temple influence, making the wild parts really stand out. There’s restraint (typical post-rock terrain), but F/E/A do it with integrity: wild-cowboy-hat-in-the-night type stuff. The band Grails also comes to mind. The desire to stretch the possibilities of audio interaction is the key trait. So F/E/A is in some nice company here.

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The video, done by artist Clàudia Gómez, is split into two screens, each done in a particular variant to offset the other; this creates movement within movement, playing with the brain’s neurons, and creating an over-mood. I’m getting a journey out of it — the sense of travel, both physically and spiritually, is clear. Also, I think there’s a war going on here. An inner-war that is poignant because we have a triptych delivered in opposing sensations. Once the viewer makes their mind up to indulge, the destination is irrelevant, the trip will be made.

There are some major influences at work. I’d be surprised if Gómez wasn’t a fan of the filmmakers Stan Brakhage and Chris Marker, both revolutionary talents. Brakhage was wide in his approach and production, but The Dante Quartet (completed in 1987) is the work that I’m thinking of. The film took six years to create, and showcased painted images done directly onto film. It’s only eight minutes long, but feels infinite. It’s intense and imaginative.

Gómez uses color in a similar way as Brakhage: the tones and flashes create space and presumption, often initiating a feeling that plays itself into a loop, while the viewer — almost mechanically — follows the ark, simultaneously enjoying the journey that is the music, specifically. The video stands on its own in a strange way; and is basically a perfect soundtrack to the sound (it was created as a supplement to the audio).

Marker, a brilliant artist, photographer, and writer, created such unique and inspired films as La Jetée and Sans Soleil, the later, the film I thought of most when viewing “PL5.” Sans Soleil might just be the greatest film ever made. A kaleidoscopic vision that desires to maximize the potential of the human brain, the film is like a Jean-Luc Godard piece done in scraps, as part of some journal of wild aspiration. Specifically, the film forges the spirituality of expression, and takes the visual phenomenon that is moviemaking to the next level; asking the viewer to use particular brain patterns that are usually reserved for other things (e.g. listening to the poem intently (it is surreal), while simultaneously enjoying the visual spectacle (which is also surreal, but done in a journalistic manner). Gómez’s work, like Marker’s, is intent on delivering a story. The narrative isn’t completely fundamental to the experience, is it more like the after-realms of a thought, the spaces that fill in the whole. “PL5” aims to set adrift the mind, split it, and then show itself to itself. It worked for me. I viewed the thing many times over.

F/E/A is a cool band. They are a group of musicians and activists that formed in 2013 with what I assume was a very progressive (in the critical vein) desire to create. So, it’s not surprising that “PL5” and its video companion are bright and determined. Videos like this are, in my mind, way more interesting than Saved By The Bell-like, drink beers all day, drive around in vans, dress up like old people in an old people’s home, and play music on the edge of the cliffs in winter, type stuff. There’s a market here in America (for sure) for that watered-down shit, so it’s great to see bands working with artists concentrating in other areas: areas that champion hard (mental) work and challenging the norms.

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