Jacknife Lee’s work as a producer and composer has spanned the gulfs of genre and time, contributing to projects from iconic artists including U2 and The Cars to more contemporary outfits like The Killers and Crystal Castles. He recently dropped a nearly self-titled solo album which featured contributions from Genesis Owusu, Beth Ditto, Aloe Blacc, Open Mike Eagle, and many others, but currently his focus is on Telefís, an experimental collaboration alongside Cathal Coughlan (Fatima Mansions, Microdisney) whose debut record a hAon is set to be released February 11.
The latest taste from the release is a left turn from the pulsing, dancey electronics of the album’s previous singles—“Falun Gong Dancer” is a spacious (and space-y) track stripped to minimal piano and gentle vocals. “Silence can cause tension,” explains Lee. “Even when recording the song, the pausing became both comforting and frustrating. When I listen to the song now I can’t help but try to alter time, trying to force the next line to come sooner… When the line does come it’s soothing and beautiful but the lyric is complex and doesn’t resolve anything. It confuses my already recently disturbed perception of time.”
“Each episode describes a further incident in his romantic pursuit of the dancer of the song’s title,” adds Coughlan, “as he (over-?)identifies with her perceived struggles, and hopes to find common cause with her—for his own depleted condition to become their common cause, perhaps. Implicit is the narrator’s ticking internal clock, which must surely count down to zero before long. Time is out of joint, and the narrator has been repelled by or expelled from his natural habitat, although we do not learn where his home is or was.”
The visual is a fairly abstract if not completely dreamed narrative depicting a woman’s departure from earth. “Just as a unique and powerful piece of music can transport the listener to new and thrilling emotional territory, to be given the opportunity to create the visuals for such a special song left me no choice but to discover images and inspiration that were unexpected yet timeless,” shares the video’s director Matt Mahurin. “The daring expanses of silence, yearning vocals, and compelling lyrics gave me the gift of exploring the essential of the earthly and the curiosity of the cosmic.”