‘Cirrus’ by Bonobo

Animation by Cyriak

This 3 minute video for the band Bonobo caught my attention a couple of months ago for it’s spectacularly clever use of repeating animation that grows and becomes a colossus by the end of the song.

It catches your attention at first for it’s simple rhythmic start, the old footage puts you into ‘fond memory’ mode, it’s sunny, the sky is blue, a boy is joyfully jumping on a trampoline, what could be more idyllic…

The style of the film cuts with the beat and we are then presented with some industrial footage and a domestic goddess of years gone by in her ultra (then) modern kitchen with it’s gadgets, this puts you in mind of those promotional videos that were used in the seventies to advertise ‘new towns’.

The pieces of footage are cleverly cut to reinforce and visually represent the beat of the song.

At this stage the sound elements are simple, a drumbeat, a wooden xylophone, what could be a muted cowbell, all with their own space in the score, again represented visually with individual unrepeated footage remaining in the same fifties advert style. This is further reinforced by the flickering black border and the centralisation of the film, giving you the feel of watching an 8mm home movie projected on the wall at home.

Then they add a dry snare or clap to the song filling in the spaces and the visuals pick up on this by taking the main element on screen, a girl jumping a bicycle, and repeat only her, over the original footage, precisely mirroring the audio tempo, adding onto the baseline of both the visual and the audio.

When this visual effect starts, it is an unexpected delight, having fun with the sound and picture, playing with time in both mediums, it’s a perfect marriage between the two. The fact that the song in itself is simple and melodic at this point, it’s like a short pause on the song so you can enjoy what’s happening on screen, if it were any more complex, it would totally overwhelm ones senses.

It makes me smile as the main character gets repeated visually, it is such a clever technique that the animator ‘Cyriak’ has perfected over the last ten or so years.

Then the song moves on again and the visual feast really starts…

Now we have elements of all of the different pieces of the footage all mixed up and interacting with each other, and as the song grows, so does the screen size.

The musical elements increase and the animations complexity just goes up and up and up as the animations then take on their own life and start to represent striding legs and enormous trees in a fantasy landscape that puts me in mind of Jan Svankmajer’s surreal environments, but also Escher’s optical illusions.

It is a phenomenal piece of audio visual work and it sticks in my memory because of it’s cleverness, the utter jaw-dropping content and attention to the details of the song. It works wonderfully together and I have never seen anything like it before.