Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Tuesday 06 April 2021

Philippe Cohen & Mike Lindsay Reveal More Of Their Audio, Visual & Digital Exploration Of Outsider Artist Henry Darger

Philippe Cohen Solal (Gotan Project) and Mike Lindsay (Tunng) continue their audio, visual and digital exploration of America's most celebrated Outsider artist Henry Darger, with the next instalment of the project.

Featuring featuring Adam Glover & Hannah Peel, the panoramic official video for Onward In The Fight, is lifted from new album, Outsider.

Created by Gabriel Jacquel, the new video is inspired by Henry Darger's 15000 page novel,  The Story of the Vivian Girls in the Realms of the Unreal, where he describes the courageous little girls' battle against adults who want to enslave them. 

The Vivian girls are at the heart of this new animation video, which sees one of the heroines ride across the wide plain followed by friends and family on horses to face a powerful army.

Philippe Cohen Solal says: 

"Henry Darger was not only an awesome visual artist, but also a prolific writer. 'Onward In The Fight' should give us the courage to confront obscure forces. Onward!" 

The album is a musical and visual extrapolation of Darger, his obsession with the weather, his tormented Christian faith, deceptively naive paintings and lyrics to songs, that have never before been set to music, written over fifty years ago. 

Darger was a reclusive hospital janitor, whose epic fantasy novels and visual artwork set the art world aflame upon its posthumous discovery. 

Darger's work now exhibits around the world, changes hands for close to a million dollars and has admirers among artists including Grayson Perry, the Chapman brothers and musicians like Nick Cave, David Byrne, Sufjan Stevens and Devendra Banhart. 

Ousider has been five years in the making and the brainchild of Philippe Cohen Solal, the million-selling artist, producer and composer who co-founded Gotan Project. 

Solal has been given exclusive, unprecedented access to Henry Darger's estate comprising lyrics, poems and visual art and has brought together an epic collaboration with Mike Lindsay from acid folk group Tunng, Hannah Peel and the vocals of Adam Glover. 

The songs shimmer around the edges of altered states, swelling through classic 1950s microphones, like Scott Walker at a pagan festival, music textured with mid-century Americana, under-the-radar found sound and hard weather.


It's PJ Harvey's 'Let England Shake' orchestrated by Ennio Morricone in an illustrated world peopled by angels, valiant children, marching battalions, and vast, colourful landscapes depicting all of the above. 
Solal and Lindsay co-wrote and co-produced all the tracks, with solo artist and composer Hannah Peel on brass, strings and backing vocals to portray Darger's child characters, the Vivian girls, and Adam Glover bringing the lush, crooning lead vocals, that conjur up Scott Walker and reflect the inner voice of Darger himself through the original lyrics.  

Speaking about the album, creator Philippe Cohen Solal said: 

"I first came across Henry Darger's work in 2003, and it has stayed with me ever since.

"I feel I know Darger. So many years I've been reading his books and living with his work and words. I feel connected because of the kind of child he was. 

"The outside world was pretty mean to him when he was young and I relate it to what is happening to the world now: with autocrats and mean people. 

"We call him an 'outsider artist' but he was very inside himself - and he created a whole world inside. 

"Outsider has been five years in the making and it's been a real labour of love. 

"I imagined Adam's luxurious, fantastically powerful and beautiful voice being the voice inside Henry's head, the projection of himself to be stronger, more powerful."

Hannah Peel added: 

"You'd think the way he was writing; he'd gone to Woodstock on a crazy trip and then gone to church to cleanse his soul. 

"He was a janitor but it's like he had about ten different past lives, and ten future lives. 

"Musically, it's more resonant than ever. It's really energetic and full and so full of hope and beauty and I think that's really important with what we've all been through over this last year." 

Outsider's reflection of what it means to make art, isolated in one room has taken on extra relevance when so many of us are living in small spaces under lockdown. 

Philippe and his band of musicians have taken Darger's questions of isolation, imagination and a David and Goliath fight against evil and turned them into the strangest, yet most beautiful lullabies you'll likely to hear.

Philippe Cohen Solal and Mike Lindsay's new album 'Outsider' is available HERE.

by: Mike Cobley


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