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Video Premiere: AG.R97 – ‘Foi Azar’, a medieval mysticism escapist fantasy

Text by CLOT Magazine

Foi Azar, AG.R97(2022). Video still

AG.R97 is a Portuguese experimental music project founded in 2018 by Luís Neto and Pedro Pimentel. After completing a bachelor’s in music production, they met in college and opened a studio in Gaia, Portugal. On how they work together, they explain that they usually bounce around ideas and let each other do their own thing, which often results in pleasant and unexpected surprises. They exchange files and bits back and forth, just accepting that each one will do whatever to add to it, which was always a surprise to find out and complement each other’s compositions.

Painwave, their forthcoming EP, set to be released on November 11 by the Portuguese experimental audiovisual label turva, comprises nine tracks conceived between 2020–2021 through a constant back-and-forth collaborative effort.

The album started with a few scattered ideas that we felt had the potential to become something more. From simple melodic ideas and sketches to more structured tracks either of us would have already started or completed, the idea was to let go of the concept of genre as a whole and simply explore the many forms of music and sounds that resonate with us. Neto explains when asked about the creative process behind the album.

And Pimentel adds: We had a vaguely defined and underlying sort of emotional mythology surrounding the type of concept we were aiming for,  based on the contrast and alienation of our studio and its densely urban surroundings with this idea of an escapist world of folk and medieval mysticism that was born out of the comfort of playing old computer games that took the mind away from the rather dull daily routines in that place. Whether we landed that in the end or not, I’m not sure, but it certainly informed and shaped what Painwave became.

Foi Azar, the video we are premiering today,  is the first single from the upcoming album Painwave. Directed by Luís Neto, Foi Azar mixes the synthetic and the analogue and takes the listener on a journey through building beats layered with orchestral arrangements and other-worldly vocals. 

The video for Foi Azar, in Neto’s words, isn’t particularly following a concept/narrative, it is meant to be more visual/flowy and present the nuclear mood of the album while being accessible and direct – a kind of idiosyncratic,  breaking the fourth wall type of video that shows the band interacting with the environment and each other in the middle of the woods. It’s a mood video, rather direct in its intent, Pimentel adds.

They wanted the visual to be a sort of clue and explanation of where they come from conceptually while being able to be unpredictable. So, when we asked how they see the music informing or relating to the visual side, Pimentel beautifully explains that the obvious contrast of instrumentation and musical direction play into the visuals and ideas that intend to inform them.

Dulcimers and santoor and small stringed instruments, tuned percussions, and flutes are often played in clearly folk-oriented manners that carry that sort of medieval mysticism escapist fantasy, but it’s all wrapped in heavy modern formats, rhythmic structures, quasi-pop inclinations, heavy electronic processing and heavy synth usage. I feel the combination of those elements helps bring the idea home when paired with the visual elements of our produced video.

(Media courtesy of the artists)
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