Hidden Kingdom is an abstract sonic tapestry musically celebrating community, ancestry, continuity and reverence. The visual component is a journey from seed to flower and back again into the backdrop of the infinite. We were introduced to the work of Simon Alexander Adams at the 2017 Ann Arbor Film Festival after seeing his short film The Stuff Revolution and was drawn to his unique animation style. Under Simon’s unique aesthetic approach, the animation for Hidden Kingdom is a strange and vivid world as colorful as the dense as the music itself. Hidden Kingdom is the first single off the 2018 release River Passage.
Single Available exclusively for download at https://heavycolor.bandcamp.com/
Animation by Simon Alexander Adams https://www.simonaa.media/
River Passage and On the Ground
River Passage is a collaboration between Heavy Color and musicians and villages in Eastern Congo. Dense and mysterious. A curious thread connects these interwoven musical fabrics and their trans-continental essences. Drawing from classic Afrobeat and Afropop, Minimalist Electronica, Futurist Instrumental Hip Hop and Detroit Boogie.
In May of 2015 Earthwork Music asked Ben of Heavy Color and Akili Jackson of Radiant City Arts to travel to the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as musical ambassadors, part of On the Ground's cultural exchange program, which strives to create meaningful connections across cultures through creative collaboration. Sales from this album are helping fund projects in Congo that directly support gender equity and fair wages for women in farming regions as well as the continued support of an arts center in the city of Bukavu, which teaches youth dance, recording technology skills and music lessons in a positive and safe space.
NDARO fire and rebuild:
On Sunday October 14 the Ndaro Cultural Center in Bakuvu suffered a devastating fire that destroyed all of their equipment and musical instruments. Thomas Lusango, who is the featured vocalist on Hidden Kingdom, serves as Director at NDARO and has devoted much of his life to learn and practice dance, music and the recording arts. 100% of download sales from Hidden Kingdom are being donated to rebuild the NDARO cultural center.
HEAVY COLOR is a future beat / psych jazz / hybrid-electronic ensemble that blends traditional music from around the globe with modern electronic and psychedelic pop music. Formed by Ben Cohen and Sam Woldenberg and based out of Toledo Ohio.
Notes on The Animation from Simon Alexander Adams.
ABOUT THE ANIMATION: The animation for Hidden Kingdom was entirely generated using Derivative TouchDesigner, a software that is closer to a programming language than it is a traditional animation program. Because TouchDesigner is designed for developing real-time video for projections and installations, it allows changes to be made on the fly. I sat down with Ben and Sam of Heavy Color on a couple occasions in what you might call “live coding” development sessions, where we tweaked parameters and explored new ideas for the animation. The animation leverages several techniques that allow the visuals to react directly to the music. To do this, I isolated several distinctive musical layers and mapped their volume to a variety of visual parameters. Some of these relationships are obvious, like the flower that pulses to the kick drum in the first section, while others are subtle, such as the flickering of the snake-like forms that appear later in the video. The content was created through a variety of means – much of which was inspired by some initial direction from Heavy Color. They provided a loose structure, along with visual content relevant to their work at NDARO Cultural Center. The “tube” that you zoom down midway through the video features many images and photos taken by Ben and Sam during their visit to the Congo. The flower at the beginning was generated through failed attempts to recreate Congolese flowers through code, which was ultimately successful in capturing a flower shape – less so in its botanical accuracy. Other content came from my own fascination with the way complexity can be generated through simple rules. The other plants and branch like forms throughout the animation were created using “L-Systems,” which are systems used to generate random branching structures. The stars at the end are another example, where the motion of a particle system is governed by cellular automata, a simulation that results in chaotic patterns – most famous of which is “Conway’s Game of Life.” I enjoy the nuance of these systems, and the complexity they can bring to the visual components in an animation context.
ABOUT THE ANIMATOR: Simon Alexander-Adams is a multimedia artist working within the intersection of music, visual art and technology. He directs multimedia performances that connect sonic, visual and kinetic forms, creates interactive installation art, designs new interfaces for musical expression and produces animations and audiovisual works. Simon has composed music for short films, theatrical and dance performances, and his work has been presented at international festivals, including Electric Forest, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the 2018 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture Shenzhen. He also performs regularly with the art-rock band saajtak.