All Boy/All Girl has always done things its own way. This is a band that began, after all, as the ukulele/ double bass duo of Danielle Lovier and Nicholas Rahn busking on the streets of Philadelphia, before moving to New York and expanding to seven members, adding viola, cello, guitar, drums, and a pair of vocalists.
All acoustic to be sure, but as their website puts it, a unit whose “sonic domain is constructed entirely from mechanical oscillations.” As if they are fulfilling only what the marketplace is demanding in a musical M.O.: Mechanical oscillations! Though they seem at times like a chamber folk ensemble, they’ve always dabbled in experimentation, both on their 2013 album Tiny Iglesias and on the pair of EPs that sandwiched it.
We’re proud today to debut their new standalone single, a six-minute suite about the 16th century Italian luther credited with making the first instruments of the violin family, “Andrea Amati.”
“The lyrics tell a fictional but fact based story of the extensive process that was necessary for Amati to build one of his instruments in the early 1500s in Northern Italy,” says All Boy/All Girl bassist Rahn. “The story also follows his horse who would be there during the process of finding timber, and ultimately his body be used in the construction of the instrument .”
That’s right: the horse’s skin was used for glue, its hair for the bow, its intestines for strings. But, Rahn adds, “Deeper than this narrative is the concept that one’s death is not the end of one’s life. Amati and his horse live on today in the instruments that he built.”
In addition to their singular musical approach, All Boy/All Girl is thoroughly innovative about the presentation of the single, too, in its singular interactivity.
It seems at first like a moody video whose lens travels slowly over the surface of a Italianate painting—like a Roomba let loose on the Renaissance work. Then you notice that the dark, seemingly candle-lit examination seems to alter its flicker based on the music. That’s due to the use of the Web Audio API, allowing the song’s audio data to affect the lighting in real-time.
Most surprising of all is when you hit your cursor on the image, maybe accidentally, and the whole direction of the examination of the picture changes. Immediately you realize it’s completely under your control.
If you move it around to find out more about the image presented, you realize it’s not one image at all, but a number of them spliced subtly to one another. The interactive site was created by Kyle Stetz, the Grind Select Records web designer, who previously came up with Typedrummer.
Stetz says the site “aims to capture the emotional tone of the song by placing listeners in the world of Andrea Amati.” Wherever it goes, he says, “it provides a small window into an enormous canvas composed of paintings that blend in disorienting ways.” Navigation across the piece is slow and takes patience, Stetz says, but it “rewards users as they stumble upon striking and intense moments of humanity.”
Indeed, it’s more an arty screensaver under a viewer’s control than any kind of music video you’ve seen. But as we said, All Boy/All Girl has been forging its own path all along.