If Roxy Music met Nick Cave on a summer's eve, they sat down and had a picnic, busily discussed finding an aesthetic middle-ground over fine wine and pâté and then made love under the bough of a willow tree, the music of Channel D would be the nine-month fruit of that brief but intense tryst.
The effect of watching ‘The Other’, knowing nothing of its context, is truly extraordinary. So I urge you to stop reading right now, scroll down, ensure you have five un-interruptable minutes at your disposal and press play.
…Have you watched, or more precisely experienced it? I hope so.
So what’s it all about then? Nick de Grunwald, the mysterious genius behind this piece of work, is a real Renaissance man, a veritable polymath who has united his numerous artistic identities (musician, poet, painter, and film-maker) to forge a true Gesamtkunstwerk, and one that even Wagner – for better or for worse – would admire.
A little Sherlockery has revealed to me that Nick spent two decades of his career making top-notch music documentaries, the Classic Albums series being his primary commercial venture. [On a personal note, the Nevermind episode elucidated my own teenage Nirvana obsession and provided me with great joy.] Then around the turn of the millennium – from what little information I can glean from his art website – he turned his hand to painting and immediately discovered a “deep love and feel for colour and light.” About a decade later he began releasing his own music – despite having written all his life – under the moniker Channel D, with the guiding help of Tim Wills (a similarly omni-talented multi-instrumentalist/sound engineer/producer in his own right). The catalyst for this sudden publication of his music was, he admits, the moment when “circumstances and events conspired that his songs were forced out in an unstoppable flow… world events that he found too painful to try to live with.”
With all this in mind, the recent creation of this video for old track ‘The Other’ is a logical step in bringing together the many talents he has carefully fostered over the course of his career, and what a creation it is! I need not analyse the eerily slow pace, the gorgeously composed series of abstract frames that we are pulled through. In fact, such an attempt would be a disservice to the glorious mystique of the entire enterprise. Suffice it to say that the hypnotic journey, in which he leads us through paintings including The Death of Mike Tang, Terminal, Temptation, and Still has – to quote the man himself – an “unstoppable flow”, an inevitability that lures us in with the Siren Song of its kinetically-charged opening frame and spits us out transformed at its close.
The term ‘music video’ doesn’t quite do ‘The Other’ justice. Its a modern Gesamtkunstwerk of near-operatic elegance, a filmic beauty of cinematic proportions that deserves to be installed at the Tate Modern for its poise and artistry. It’s a game-changer, and one that I hope will sharply bring Channel D to the attention of a wider audience than his mere seven YouTube channel subscribers. But perhaps the wonder of it all is its distinct ‘underground’ essence – that guarded hipster feeling that if too many people find out about it then it’ll cease to be cool. Either way, it comes on grandiloquent yet restrained, tricksy yet simple, grounded yet sublime.
The album Unravelling is out now via Straight Lines Are Fine