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Hällas Now Lets You See “Astral Seer”

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When I premiered Hällas‘s “The Astral Seer” last August, I focused on one particular element of the band’s sound: the harmonized guitar riff. It was an easy focal point, in part because Hällas are remarkably adept at writing these kinds of riffs, but also because the way a harmonized melody works explains a great about the band’s appeal. On paper, what the band is doing to create these passages is fairly self-evident. The ear can pick out each melody separately without much effort, but the effect of hearing them simultaneously transcends the mundane reality of how the sound is produced. The method is simple, but the results are magical. Hällas never hide what they’re doing in trickery, and in combination their earthly sounds work together to evoke the other-wordly. The video for “The Astral Seer” literalizes this process by splicing footage of the band’s live performance with images drawn from their fantastical lyrics.

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Unsurprisingly, given Hällas’s old-school sound, this video makes no bones about its throwback status. Everything about “The Astral Seer,” from the VHS-look of the film stock to the pace of the editing, harkens back to the aesthetics of the 1970s. Instead of reading as a cheap nostalgia trip, this “out of time” look gives the video a transportive quality. The lack of fidelity makes it easier to read the forests and mountain ridges as mythical, and the warm tone to the band shots feeler truer to the song’s production than a modern look would. The retro vibe also opens the door for a more distinctive editing grammar. Hällas are a band that can be kind of goofy and sincerely thrilling at the same time, so the De Palma-esque freeze frames feel just as appropriate as overlaying footage of a guitar solo with swirling lights.

Seeing a band in video can be demystifying, but Hällas doesn’t lose an ounce of their magical power here. “The Astral Seer” feels like a relic from another world, and its video offers a glimpse into that world without sacrificing the band’s power in our own reality.

Excerpts from a Future Past was released on October 13th, 2017 via The Sign Records. Stream the album on Bandcamp here. Hällas will be playing at this year’s Roadburn Festival.

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