At the beginning of 2019, Anna Liber Lewis and Four Tet (Kieran Hebden) worked together for an exhibition called ‘Muscle Memory’ shown at Elephant West. On the 29th of August, the musical aspect of their collaboration was released – Anna Painting, a fruity three track EP composed by Four Tet himself.
‘Muscle Memory’ showcased visual art by Liber Lewis alongside aural art by Hebden. Both of these aspects influenced the other as they were created in tandem. Hebden stated: “I made music and Anna responded to it with drawings and paintings, apart from the last track, which I made after having seen her work.” Therefore Anna Painting is a really interesting collaborative project, residing between the worlds of fine art and electronic music.
The symbiotic relationship between music and art has been acknowledged for centuries, I couldn’t help but think of Kandinsky and synesthesia (a condition which can manifest as seeing sounds as colours). Musicians and visual artists continuously refer to each other as sites of inspiration or stimulation, therefore collaborations between the two are not unheard of (Keith Haring and Grace Jones, Flume and Jonathan Zawada, Billie Eilish and Takashi Murakami to name a few). But what really caught my attention about this project was that it was not just a meeting of two artists but two friends who grew up together. On an interview for 6 music, both artists talk about their collaboration in a way that really puts emphasis on their friendship, highlighting how natural it felt to work alongside each other. This warmth and familiarity is really palpable in the project, you can feel that the music and the art understand each other.
On this radio interview, Liber Lewis states that: “(Kieran’s) work is so layered. I think it really influenced the work in that way because I started layering the paint a lot more.” True, the title track Anna Painting is thickly layered with multiple instruments, rhythms and melodies combining to create a really dynamic piece of music. This compliments Liber Lewis’ paintings really effectively, emphasising the vibrant colours and organic shapes. Similarly, the strong flavours of the track ‘Lahaina Noon’ bear a strong correlation to the painting of the same name. There is a charming absurdity to this second track. The opening sound of peaceful birdsong is interrupted by fast-paced drums, strange horns and a funky melody (about 4 minutes in) which I can only describe as sounding like a futuristic street fighter soundtrack. It sounds a bit more angular in comparison to the first track which is echoed in the painting through darker colours and more geometric shapes.
Anna Liber Lewis ‘Lahaina Noon’, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 140 x 100 cm
The closing track is much more ambient and peaceful. It’s like the mint you get at the end of your meal to refresh the palette. The corresponding artwork ‘Breath’ (also the EP cover) with is swirling calming colours are mimicked by the elongated, echoey, flowy synth. All of these comparisons demonstrate how closely the artists worked together, this project is testimony to their deep and meaningful relationship. Therefore, not only is Anna Painting a celebration of the intertwining nature of music and art, but also of friendship and collaboration.
Verdict: A CARAMEL SHORTBREAD!! (Hear me out) The first track is the creamy, smooth chocolate topping. ‘Lahaina Noon’ is the thick, caramel that oozes in the middle whilst the final track is the faithful buttery biscuit base which stabilises the richness of the other two layers. A scrumptious treat that tastes as good as it looks.
Listen for yourself: