Joshua Homme’s Desert Sessions collective is proud to unveil the first fruits of its expansion into visual collaboration: Homme’s recent meetings with students at the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus have resulted in unique works by two filmmakers, each of whom was given a production budget to translate the music and lyrics of the Desert Sessions into their own vision.
Italian filmmaker Gabriele Fabbro took on the acoustic ballad “If You Run,” creating a haunting exploration of violence told through the eyes of a curious young woman, specifically inspired by deadly attacks on European journalists. “I used to read a lot of news about murders, especially on European newspapers. I remember one in particular that happened in a cornfield. That article came to mind while hearing ‘If You Run.'” The filmmaker said in a statement, “With this music video I want to touch themes such as ‘femicide’, ‘chase for justice’, ‘innocent curiosity vs violence’. But on top, I want to play with an existential fear. The fear of being powerless. Every tool in the video, from the shakiness of the handheld shots to the distorted sound of the radio, serves to exaggerate this fear.”
Filmmaker Jonathan Samukange employed a wholly different direction, reimagining Vols. 11 &12’s groove-heavy opener “Move Together” as the soundtrack to a psychedelic take on the story of Adam and Eve. In his statement on the video, Samukange says, “I wanted to create a seamless balance between computer graphics and reality. I want my audience to escape into a time capsule, following the tragic love story of Adam and Eve.” Filmed in the director’s home country of Zimbabwe, the video enlisted residents of an entire village and used the region’s stunning natural landscape to create the hallucinatory trip through time. “This idea is completely nuts, but it is also grounded in reality with themes of love, togetherness, collaboration, betrayal, and even brainwashing.”
The spectrum of possibilities realised across these two visual works—as well as Rio Hackford and Chapman Baehler’s previous takes on “If Your Run” and “Easier Said Than Done”—speaks further to the inspired sprawl and emotional impact of the material making up Desert Sessions Vols. 11 & 12 (aka respectively Arrivederci Despair and Tightwads & Nitwits & Critics & Heels).
Released October 25, 2019 on Matador Records, Vols. 11 & 12 ended a 16-year hiatus with the most ambitious entries ever in the project’s expansive and elusive catalog. The eight tracks were recorded (mostly) in December 2018 at Rancho De La Luna studios in Joshua Tree, CA, with Queens of the Stone Age founder and Desert Sessions ringleader/producer Joshua Homme enlisting a cast of players including Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint), Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters), Mike Kerr (Royal Blood), Carla Azar (Autolux, Jack White), Les Claypool (Primus), Matt Sweeney (Chavez, Superwolf, Endless Boogie), Matt Berry (What We Do in the Shadows, Toast of London), Libby Grace and of course Töôrnst Hülpft.
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