The haunting beauty of Alt-J

Find a blank text board on your computer, hold the alt button, press J and if you have a Mac, a delta should appear on the board. The group Alt-J, pronounced Alt J deviates from the normal content that is often posted on MMIBTY.

There is so much electronically produced music out there that is focused on generating an action packed environment for a long late night full of thrills. Today I would like to step outside that boundary, take a breath and explore a group of musicians that have embraced electronic media and applied it to a more traditional approach to music, which I guess is very suiting for the delta symbol they have chosen as their mascot, for in mathematics it represents change.

Coming to us from across the pond, Alt-J hails from the UK and consists of Gwil, Joe Newman, Gus Unger-Hamilton and Thom Green . In 2007 the band congealed in the dorm rooms of Leeds university, Joe had shown Gwil some of his songs on his guitar, Gwil in return showed Joe some his skills on his medium, the production program Garageband and thus began the formation of change.

My first experience with Alt-J was viewing their music video of Tessellate. Tessellation is the process of creating a two dimensional plane using the repetition of geometric shapes with no over laps or gaps; a very basic description of tessellation for it can be found in incredibly complicated computer algorithms as well as encountered in various forms throughout nature. What I found to be most intriguing about the music video they had shot for their song was the multi-layered artistic creativity they applied to the idea of Raphael’s “The School of Athens”. The video takes place within Raphael’s painting which originally incorporates the founding fathers of philosophy, science and mathematics such as Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolemy, Pythagoras, Socrates, Archimedes and it is even speculated that architect Bramante is present as well. The original painting also takes place in an area of space architecturally defined as a greek cross plan, some suggest that Raphael wanted to express a hopeful desire to unite pagan ideas with christian beliefs. All of this being said Alt-J takes the ideas surrounding Raphael’s favorite piece and transforms it into a modern day gangsters paradise. The characters in Alt-J’s piece are composed in the same positions as in Raphael’s but are taking part in the various actions that their character represents, the dice rolling gamblers, scantily clad women dancing erotically even the stone faced dog handler plays his part as well. The vocals and overall sound of Alt-J is somewhat haunting and absolutely beautiful at the same time, leaving most people that I show this video to (including myself) slack jawed with hair on end.

Please take a few minutes to enjoy the video Tessellate below, I have also posted a few songs that are a must hear by them. Check them out on Facebook and twitter and get a copy of their album, each and every song is completely unique, fantastic and superbly composed.

Alt-j(∆) – Breezeblocks

Alt-J(∆) – Matilda

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