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A leopard chats on its cell phone after moving to the city, in a new, animated video from the band Hem. (Courtesy of the artist)

First Watch: Hem, 'Tourniquet'

Jan 29, 2013

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Robin Hilton

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Nearly a decade after releasing its deeply moving and profoundly beautiful album Rabbit Songs, the Brooklyn-based band Hem was on the verge of falling apart. "I actually believed that Hem might never make music together again as a band," songwriter and pianist Dan Messe tells us in an email. "Everything about who we were, where we lived, and how we related to each other seemed beyond repair."

Fortunately for Hem (and for us) Messe discovered the healing power of his own music in a song he wrote called "Tourniquet," for the band's upcoming album Departure And Farewell. The song's distinct imagery comes to life in a remarkable new animated video from Jordan Bruner.

Bruner says she was inspired by the tug of war between our animal instincts and the need to conform for survival. "I thought it would be exciting to have animals star in a story that looks to explore the conflicting desires that stem from wanting to develop culturally, which at times can lead to feelings of frustration and confinement, while also needing to tend to our basic primitive longings," Bruner writes. "The band was looking to incorporate striking imagery into the music video, but outside of that they were very open to allowing me to explore different concepts. The video is combination of stop motion animation shot on a green screen and compositing in [the editing program] After Effects."

Dan Messe says the band fell for the idea of animals that come to the city and become human. "We in Hem are suckers for anything involving anthropomorphic animals, so of course we jumped at this idea. It was important to us that the video ended with the wolf finding his way back home. It makes me especially pleased to see him and his girl howling at the end."

Hem's album, Departure And Farewell, is due out April 2 on Waveland Records.

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