Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Monday 11 November 2019

The National Return With Ambitious Film & Music Projects Prior To December Date @ The Brighton Centre

Back in early September 2017, director Mike Mills emailed Matt Berninger (The National's frontman) to introduce himself and in very short order, the most ambitious project of the National's nearly 20-year career was born and plans for a hard-earned vacation died. 

The Los Angeles-based filmmaker was coming off his third feature, 20th Century Women, and was interested in working with the band on...something. 

A video maybe. Berninger, already a fan of Mills' films, not only agreed to collaborate, he essentially handed over the keys to the band's creative process.

The result is I Am Easy to Find, a 24-minute film by Mills starring Alicia Vikander, and I Am Easy to Find, a 68-minute album by the National. 

The former is not the video for the latter; the latter is not the soundtrack to the former. 

The two projects are, as Mills calls them: "Playfully hostile siblings that love to steal from each other," – they share music and words and DNA and impulses and a vision about what it means to be human in 2019, but don't necessarily need one another. 

The movie was composed like a piece of music; the music was assembled like a film, by a film director. 


The frontman and natural focal point was deliberately and dramatically side-staged in favour of a variety of female voices, nearly all of whom have long been in the group"s orbit. 

It is unlike anything either artist has ever attempted and also totally in line with how they've created for much of their careers.

As the album's opening track, You Had Your Soul With You, unfurls, it's so far, so National: a digitally manipulated guitar line, skittering drums, Berninger's familiar baritone, mounting tension. 

Then around the 2:15 mark, the true nature of I Am Easy To Find announces itself:

The racket subsides, strings swell, and the voice of long-time David Bowie bandmate Gail Ann Dorsey booms out – not as background vocals, not as a hook, but to take over the song.

Elsewhere it's Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan, or Sharon Van Etten, or Mina Tindle or Kate Stables of This Is the Kit, or varying combinations of them. The Brooklyn Youth Choir, whom Bryce Dessner had worked with before. 

There are choral arrangements and strings on nearly every track, largely put together by Bryce in Paris – not a negation of the band's dramatic tendencies, but a redistribution of them.

"Yes, there are a lot of women singing on this, but it wasn't because, "Oh, let's have more women's voices,"" says Berninger. 

"It was more, 'Let's have more of a fabric of people's identities."

"It would have been better to have had other male singers, but my ego wouldn't let that happen."

The National play The Brighton Centre on Saturday 7th December 2019. CLICK HERE for tickets.

by: Mike Cobley




Share    

Whats on in Brighton today

Credit Mark Nixon

Admitting that he was happily sliding into middle-age, fairly sure he knew all that he needed to know about the world, Ardal O'Hanlon has been jolted out of that complacency by recent world events. 
Credit Terry O’Neill & Bran Symondson

The recent death of photographer Terry O'Neill, who created iconic portraits of The Beatles, David Bowie, Brigitte Bardot and Nelson Mandela, and catalogued London's Swinging Sixties, has been honoured by having his last exhibition'Hollywood Re-Loaded extended.
Credit Darren Andrews

For the last two years The Lovely Eggs have sat back and watched England and the rest of the planet slowly eat itself.
Credit Hugo Glendinning

The first show announced for Brighton Festival 2020 is Double Murder, a two-part contemporary dance for our times, led by the multi-talented choreographer Hofesh Shechter OBE and performed by ten of his inimitable dancers, accompanied by the sounds of a Shechter-composed score. 

Following the release of his seventh studio album Up On High, Vetiver is heading out to Brighton, next month. In something of a rarity, the upcoming date (part of a UK tour) will see Andy Cabic taking to the stage without the accompaniment of his backing band.

A reading project for primary school children has revealed Malamander has been chosen as the Young City Reads title for 2020. 

Former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett is no stranger to Brighton Dome. Having first performed there in the early 70s with his old band mates in their prog peak, he returned on Tuesday night to mark the 40th anniversary of his own Spectral Mornings album and to revisit those bygone days with Peter Gabriel and co.

Jason Donovan is about to take his first steps in the role of producer, when the new production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert visits Theatre Royal Brighton, next month.
Credit Alexander Sallons

Green candidates - Ollie Sykes for Hove, Alexandra Phillips for Brighton Kemptown and Caroline Lucas for Brighton Pavilion have launched their campaigns in central Brighton.

Following a sell-out Edinburgh Fringe run, award-winning comedian Sarah Keyworth brings her new show, Pacific, to Komedia Brighton, next February. 

Sam Fender, who plays Brighton Dome later this month, recently released Will We Talk?, the final single from his debut album. 

After attending WWE Live at the Brighton Centre, earlier this week, Dave Cobley felt it was the perfect time to not only focus on how far the company, and the business as a whole, has come, but also to look at how little has changed.

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...







Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd