photo credits: Heather Sommerfield, Chris Hacker, Phaedra Walker
Regarding the track/video, Will stated: “The album title was floating in my head while I was sketching out these new songs – Waving At Airplanes – the childlike ritual that’s optimistic yet futile, hoping that you just might be seen. After sending Natalie the demo, I mentioned the title and it must have triggered some inspiration because she came back and said, Do you have a title track yet? Thankfully I didn’t. I loved the way her lyrics portrayed that same sentiment through the eyes of a child.
It seemed like the perfect song for an animated video because we could steer it into a fantasy world. The simple story line loosely follows the arc of the song but rather than a child, it tells the origin story of a paper airplane – being folded by a gust of wind, becoming aloft, learning to fly and going on a journey experiencing life in the air and sky.
I was so lucky to find Emily Eckstein, a super talented animator who did an amazing job creating this world and bringing this little paper airplane to life.”
Waving At Airplanes, the fifth full-length from electronic composer/producer Will Thomas’s collaborative Dive Index project, provides an immersive and delicately nuanced exploration of both the human condition and the condition of humanity.
With vocals shared between Natalie Walker (of trip-hop collective Daughter Darling plus an extensive solo career) and critically-acclaimed English multi-instrumentalist Merz, the album marries memorable melody to evocative mood in equal measure. This time Thomas set specific parameters to his ever-exquisite sound design, sourcing almost everything (percussion included) from modular synthesizer. The only exceptions are some piano, acoustic guitar, and occasional extraneous sounds – nail gun, jackhammer – that leaked into the studio and were embraced into song.
Waving At Airplanes takes its title from the overtly optimistic act of seeking the fleeting attention of passing strangers for the sake of sheer connection – a wonderfully unjaded action confined to the very young and the very lost. Other themes on the album include missed connections (“Window to Window”), desert beauty (“Pristine Wilderness”), artificial intelligence (“Wish I Had A Pulse”), contentment with what we have (“Bruised and Beautiful”, “Near Enough”), and the current political climate (“We Can’t Change The Channel”, “19 Fools”).
Co-written and produced by Thomas and mostly recorded in his studio near L.A.’s Laurel Canyon (with Merz contributing remotely from Joshua Tree), Waving At Airplanes was mastered by Mike Bozzi at Hollywood’s legendary Bernie Grundman Mastering. The record is at once an audiophile delight and, warmed by Walker’s finely-grained timbre and Merz’s emotive expressions, a reassuringly visceral expression.
Walker and Merz also contributed to Dive Index’s lauded second album Mid/Air, while other past Thomas collaborators on the project include Joseph Arthur, Mark Gardener (Ride), Ian Masters (Pale Saints), and Simone White. Thomas has also released multiple minimalist electronic albums as Plumbline, including two Roger Eno collaborations, as well as composing film scores, modern dance pieces, and developing sound installations.
Waving At Airplanes
Street Date: May 29, 2020
1. Window to Window (feat. Natalie Walker)
2. Near Enough (feat. Merz)
3. She’s Exploding (feat. Natalie Walker)
4. 19 Fools (feat. Merz)
5. Bruised and Beautiful (feat. Natalie Walker)
6. Pristine Wilderness (feat. Merz)
7. Wish I Had A Pulse (feat. Natalie Walker)
8. Say Yes To Tenderness (feat. Merz)
9. Waving At Airplanes (feat. Natalie Walker)
10. The Ruined Romantics (feat. Merz)
11. We Can’t Change The Channel (feat. Natalie Walker)