This is not your regular music video – it's a six-minute, miniature epic inspired by "Pleader," the closing cut on alt-J's album Relaxer.
The song itself is inspired by Richard Llewelyn's book How Green Was My Valley, a story set in 19th century Wales in a small mining town, in part about a family that hopes its youngest son will find a better life. The song by alt-J is grand, too, recorded in a cathedral with an organ, a boys choir (alt-J keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton was a member of this choir as a child) and the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
Joe Newman, alt-J singer and guitarist, wrote me saying, "When we set out to make a video for 'Pleader', [I] sent the following one-line brief to director, Isaiah Seret: 'A Welsh mining love story; A tidal wave of earth.' What Isaiah came back with was an epic short-film inspired both by the song's source material and Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice. A family must pit their desire to have a child against the knowledge that this would destroy their community. The hypnotic, hymnal quality of the song binds the video throughout, hinting at redemption while destruction takes place."
The film does what alt-J does best, mixing folktale and imagination to create a world of characters who are thought-provoking and intriguing.
Relaxer is out now on Canvasback Music