Phantogram play with an old Chinese concept with the clip for Into Happiness
After three years of quietness, the duo are back with a couple of new pieces - including music and international tour dates.
New York electronic duo Phantogram are in that strange sub-category of international dance music that's yet to completely translate to US audiences, and it's a shame, considering they're one of the Unites States' most-adored names in electronica. Typically, they sit at the top of lineups alongside musicians like ODESZA, becoming a festival staple in the US amongst sold-out headline shows and support slots for The XX and Muse (just to start), while their music holds the same weight commercially as acts like RÜFÜS DU SOL in Australia - not necessarily at the peak of country-wide commercialism, but definitely one of electronic's biggest.
Their last album, 2016's Three, gave them a thrust into public commercialism that they hadn't quite felt before (it peaked at number nine on the Billboard Album Charts - a remarkably strong feat for an act with a rather niche audience appeal), but three years later, it feels like they've been given a refined edge to put them in front. Into Happiness, released back in June, is their first taste of new music since Three and it's a confident stride which sees the duo balance happiness with something darker, contrasting light and heaviness with a single that feels like an extension - an evolution, maybe - of their work to date.
In the midst of recording Three, Phantogram's Sarah Barthel lost her sister to suicide (something that'll come to inspire the album's haunting heaviness; plus their reasoning to donate money from ticket sales for their upcoming US tour to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention), and Into Happiness feels like Barthel climbing out the other side of this tragedy empowered and looking forward. In a way, she's soundtracking that moment of grief that comes after the fall; the rise above, per say, and how you grow stronger when faced with hardship like this. "[Into Happiness] embodies the personal journey that both of us have taken since we released Three; it’s been a long path, coming out of the darkness and into the light," the duo said on the single on release, and within the track's aching cries and soft pulse, you can hear that combination of dark and light shine through; she's overcoming tragedy and coming from it more powerful and stronger than ever.
Their new video clip for the single, however, takes this to the next level. Directed by Floria Sigismondi, the video takes this contrasted battle and gives it symbolic visuals that build on the song's theme by interpolating it with a Chinese concept called 'the red thread of fate'. Typically this string unites destined lovers through their little fingers, but this time it unites the band's two members Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel, representing the support and love they have for each other, something which seemingly has been built further in the face of tragedy and the complex situations that you find yourself in after. "Into Happiness is a song about growth and realisation of a lot of things in our lives over the years," the duo says on the clip. "We teamed up with Floria Sigismondi, whose work we’ve loved for some time; it was fun to put ourselves in her hands and let her take the video and song where she saw it going. Since we’ve known each other since preschool, she wanted to show our journey together throughout our lives.
While Phantogram are yet to announce what's officially next album-wise, they've given another teaser with Mister Impossible. Check that one out HERE too, and hope that their Australian return isn't too far away.
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