♫♪  Thor & Friends - “Medieval”

Photo: Conor Q Walker

As the present incarnation of Swans becomes history, the great and good Thor Harris has wasted little time initiating a lovely new project. Thor & Friends finds the percussionist joined by many guests, with the group’s nucleus consisting of Thor, Peggy Ghorbani on marimba, and Sarah “Goat” Gautier on marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, voice, and keys.

Appropriately enough for a trio of mallet wielders, the first video from their self-titled record is a striking thing to behold. The cyclical percussion and woodwind riffs heard on “Medieval” indeed conjure past centuries, with the track’s steady plonks acting like hammers working the stone of a vast gothic cathedral. Video director Andy Byers creates an enigmatic Middle Ages enchantment vibe, yet widens the imagery of reference into Baroque still-life painting and perhaps even the Modernism of Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast. Jim Henson was also an inspiration. Quoth Byers:

The song “Medieval” immediately conjured these archaic images of alchemy and sorcery. I was drawn to the paintings of 15th century Dutch and Flemish masters of light, imagining what might be sitting just outside of the frame of those perfectly placed fruits, goblets, and dead animals. It is always so perfectly placed, ritualistically laid out upon the table. At the same time I was deep into the life of Jim Henson, listening to his biography as I built the props. I thought about his source imagery, his perspective on light and dark, his obsession with folklore and of course, puppetry itself and his mastery of it.

To me, Thor is the embodiment of both the male and female energy, the heavy darkness and the overpowering light. Easily the strongest, most masculine man in my life and at the same time, the kindest, gentle should you will ever come across. I imagined this video to be capturing the birth of the spiritual alchemy of his ancestors, that special duality coming into existence hundreds of years ago. It is the only way I can define in my mind how an individual like Thor made his way into this world.

Watch the video for “Medieval” below, grab a copy of Thor & Friends here, and check out the group on tour.

10.18.16 - Philadelphia - Johnny Brenda’s
10.20.16 - NYC - Mercury Lounge
10.21.16 - Portsmouth - 3S Arts Space
10.22.16 - Montreal - Bar Le Ritz
10.23.16 - Toronto - The Drake Hotel
10.25.16 - Columbus - Spacebar
10.26.16 - Evanston - SPACE
10.27.16 - Columbia - Rose Music Hall
10.28.16 - St. Louis - Off Broadway Night Club
10.30.16 - Oxford - Proud Larry’s
11.09.16 - Tucson - The Flycatcher
11.10.16 - Phoenix - Valley Bar
11.11.16 - San Diego - TBD
11.12.16 - Los Angeles - Resident
11.13.16 - San Francisco - Rickshaw Stop
11.15.16 - Portland - Doug Fir
11.16.16 - Seattle - Columbia City Theater
11.17.16 - Spokane - The Bartlett
11.19.16 - Salt Lake City - Garage on Beck Roadhouse & Grill
11.20.16 - Denver - Larimer Lounge
11.22.16 - Kansas City - Record Bar

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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