Let England Shake: One Album, 12 Short Films
What the last rose of England has to do with war photography and The Velvet Underground.
By Maria Popova
English singer-songwriter PJ Harvey is among the most prolific yet ceaselessly innovative musicians of the past 20 years, reinventing herself completley, almost unrecognizably, with each new album. But release of her latest record, Let England Shake, goes beyond merely redefining her own sound, reinventing the very definition of what an album or a music video is as well.
For the project, PJ Harvey partnered with award-winning photojournalist Seamus Murphy, whose work in Afghanistan and The Middle East has garnered him international acclaim, to create short films for each of the album’s twelve tracks.
Ranging from the bizarre to the breathtakingly beautiful, the films — gathered in the below video playlist for your viewing pleasure — are some of the most creatively exquisite “music videos” we’ve seen in a long time, though calling them that feels somewhat pejorative in the face of how innovative the project’s entire approach is. (Our favorite has to be The Last Living Rose.)
Written over a period of two-and-a-half years and recorded over five weeks in an old Dorset church, Let England Shake is a florilegium of inspirations, ranging from the poetry of Harold Pinter and T.S. Eliot to the art of Salvador Dalí and Francisco de Goya to the music of The Doors, The Pogues, and The Velvet Underground — easily the most interesting and layered dark horse of an album to come by this year.
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Published May 9, 2011