If you were still muttering ‘With this Apple appliance…’ in your best German lilt months after the drop of Frank Ocean’s ‘Endless’, you’re in luck. The fabled photographer and artist Wolfgang Tillmans and his band Fragile have just released a 6-song visual album for their new ‘That’s Desire / Here We Are’ EP. The EP is laced with Tillmans’ Berlin-London sound the world was piqued by on Frank’s album and is perfect to blast at your next subterranean 5 AM gathering.
Directed and shot by Tillmans, the 27-minute film features performances by Hari Nef (catch a part of her great recent BOF Voices talk with Tim Blanks and Joan Smalls here), New Jersey queer rapper Ash B. (who's featured on the opening track), queer artist Karis Wilde, Matthew Salinas, Bashir Daviid Naim, Rachel Guest and Christopher Olszewski. Tillmans and his band are also part of the film. The participants danced, hula hooped and improvised in L.A. and New York to a boombox with a set of coloured gels covering the window. The plan was to cut the footage into six individual videos, but in the editing bay (perhaps sprawled out on a velvet chaise longue, as demonstrated in Mariah’s World) it became clear to Tillmans that the videos should be kept as one sequence of six different moods.
After the summer 2016 debut of his techno EP ‘Device Control’, this release slows down the pace after it’s opening track to offer personal reflections in English and German on the state of the world. The EP contains strong political undertones, and some lyrics later made it onto the widely shared pro-EU / anti-Brexit campaign posters and t-shirts Tillmans designed earlier this year.
The second track, the electro-punk song ‘Fast Lane’, was actually recorded in 1986 and you can hear a 17-year Wolfgang, ridden with ‘Cold War angst and nausea at political indifference’ say the line ‘we take the fast lane into the dark’ - which rings true just as much today. Tillmans states: “I wanted the overall feel of the EP to be reflecting the desire to carry on and live our lives in a quest for personal happiness, whatever the circumstances are. We need to protest and campaign, but this shouldn’t stop us from reaffirming love and life, here and now.”