US-born, Paris based duo CocoRosie consist of sisters Bianca and Sierra Casady. It seems that the sister’s upbringing between two worlds has influenced their music. In childhood they lived an everyday life with their schoolteacher mother yet spent summers with their father, a wandering Shaman. It is possible this is where the magical, otherworldly quality of their music and visuals originate. Their new single We Are On Fire is accompanied by a lucid, enigmatic video directed by Emma Freeman.
The opening outdoor scenes, featuring an assembled cloaked entity amidst an overwhelming landscape create an instant impression not only in content but in cinematography. The sudden assembly of this cloaked figure from nothing adds to the thematic study of form throughout the video. Movement of the human body is under intense scrutiny in the video, inspiring awe, yet there is a sinister destructive element counteracting throughout. The slow-mo capture enhances this malevolence in the tortured faces expressed by the video's subjects. This sadness and struggle becomes truer in the lyrics of the song which seem to address issues of self acceptance “I wanna be this/ I wanna be that/ A big black dog with the soul of a cat/ The blue eyed devil inside of me/ He won’t leave/ he’s buried deep.” These lyrics highlight the desperation of spirit to be something unattainable which is uniquely expressed through the desire to simultaneously exhibit the qualities of two different species, the dog and the cat.
It is hard to find anything particularly literal in the visual and lyrical combination as the video is much more aimed toward an abstract, open to interpretation style than an obvious black and white approach. However there seem to be some subtle indicators such as the opening lyrics “When I was young, I thought I’d be more than just a fantasy” Accompanied by the shattering of china suggesting that the fragile dreams of childhood have been broken.
The song brings to mind ideas of the separation between physical form and the spirit or soul. I get a sense that there is a frustration between the appearance or capabilities we have physically and what we feel we are inside, this notion is well delivered through the scrutiny of movement and the use of masking or cloaking, but also through the very different settings which interplay in the video; the wide, open and natural landscape vs the indoor, empty, artificial studio space.
Despite the lack of literal audiovisual interplay, the music and visuals manage to complement each other, particularly in tone. There is an element of dreamlike awe yet it is accompanied by an eerie undercurrent of destruction. The dreamy elements of the song are beautifully exhibited through the unique vocal quality that both sisters command and also visually in the examination of slow motion and deliverance of pristine imaging. The destruction is heard in the lyrics of the song and also the slightly dark melodic accompaniment while the visual display of destruction is equally haunting, particularly in the burning at the stake scene.
I can hear this song working very well in film or television because it has a very atmospheric quality to it and a really great chorus that twists the songs path and makes you want to hear it again and again. Both the song and video create an otherworldly atmosphere that makes for a refreshing and intriguing listen and watch. The single is out Monday the 11th of June.Fiona Burke