All Songs Considered
9:02 am
Thu January 3, 2013

First Watch: Angel Olsen's 'Tiniest Seed' In 16mm

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 7:36 pm

"A transatlantic collaboration between four friends. Two songs were written and recorded in Chicago and then sent to Vienna. There they were translated into a film score."

That statement from four filmmakers should give you a clue that this isn't your everyday video project/premiere. It is, though, a perfect introduction to Angel Olsen, a musician I hope to hear a lot from in this new year. If you don't know Angel Olsen, just start watching the video for "Tiniest Seed," below. You may know her voice from her collaborations with Bonnie "Prince" Billy, but my guess is that her sound on these solo recordings will grab your attention. She made a fabulous record that didn't get enough attention in 2012 called Half Way Home. Songs on that album had much in common with the passions and range of a singer like Roy Orbison. The common thread between that powerful singer-songwriter and hit-maker from Texas and this more delicate Midwesterner is that they both write from the heart and sing with a range that may make you stop what you're doing and drop your jaw a bit.

A bit more on these two films. They were made by four filmmakers: Angel Olsen, Randy Sterling Hunter, Ashley Connor and Zia Anger. They worked collaboratively on these two films — which they feel are related — and they gave us this joint statement.

The score was mailed back across the Atlantic and then interpreted using a hand-wound 16mm camera. Two rolls of film were shot in barns and fields, and in gorges and on piers in Upstate, New York. The beginning of the score called for a meiotic effect to be used in tandem with the song "Tiniest Seed." The film was exposed and then rewound and re-exposed many times. Later in the score a more intuitive approach to shooting was the direction, as a reaction to the song "Sweet Dreams." These images were collected with the foreknowledge that the film would be extensively manipulated in the darkroom. The film was mailed back to Vienna. An archaic homemade contact printer was used to create the final look and that film was hand-processed, and rinsed and repeated all in the same room in which the score began. The final version is the documentation of an epistolary-exchange lasting nearly a year. It is an attempt to sync the unsyncable and our experiment at reconciling the space between us. Every hand visible in the final film. A 16mm print available and recommended for screening purposes. This is the digital version.

You can pre-order the "Sleepwalker" 7" here. It's out Jan. 25. Angel Olsen will make her first Los Angeles solo performance tomorrow, Jan. 4th, at the Bootleg Bar.

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