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Two teenage boys wrestle among a carpet of pink flowers. A young woman takes part in some sort of initiation. For nearly four minutes, the camera zooms in slowly on a man reading a newspaper in the corner of an eerily lit room.
It’s fair to say this new collaboration between jazz virtuoso Kamasi Washington and the filmmaker A.G.Rojas poses more questions than it provides answers. But that’s its impressionistic charm. It’s a surreal, beautifully shot mix of scenes of ceremony and celebration, ritual and real life, woven together to create something intoxicating. It’s best just to submit to it, and let Kamasi’s music wash over you.
Truth is Kamasi’s first release since his widely-acclaimed 2015 debut album The Epic. It’s also the first track from his upcoming EP, Harmony of Difference, which marks his new relationship with the London-based Young Turks label (also home to The xx, Sampha and FKA twigs).
Kamasi worked with the Barcelona-born, LA-based director A.G.Rojas on the accompanying film as part of an installation at this year’s Whitney Biennial. He also collaborated with his sister, Amani Washington, who created five paintings to accompany five of Kamasi’s tracks as part of the same piece.
She then took these five images, and created a composite painting – a haunting abstract of a human face – to accompany the sixth track in the suite, which itself fuses the previous five tracks into a new whole. The film is the final piece in the jigsaw, the last thing that visitors to the installation are shown.
Musically, Kamasi is exploring the “counterpoint” technique, which he describes as, “the art of balancing similarity and difference to create harmony between separate melodies.”
More broadly though, Kamasi, Amani and A.G.Rojas have created a multi-layered artistic experience that turns the idea of difference on its head. They present it not as a divisive force which tears us apart, but as a joyous breadth of people and communities and experiences which makes the world infinitely richer.
“My hope is that witnessing the beautiful harmony created by merging different musical melodies will help people realize the beauty in our own differences,” Kamasi says.
Debuting today on our This Works site, the release is the first collaboration between Kamasi and WeTransfer, and we looking forward to supporting more of his projects in the future.