Composer David Norland premieres the music video for “Agate Or Barium,” the lead track from his recently released full-length album, Glam Tear Stain, an album reflecting intense emotions.
The song’s title — “Agate Or Barium” — borrowed from a pair of elements, seems to suggest a question: which am I, agate or barium? Agate is a rock made up of cryptocrystalline silica, while barium is a highly reactive chemical element never found as a free element. Polished and hard, agate has both industrial and decorative uses, whereas barium, a silvery-white metal, oxidizes rapidly, turning dark gray, is toxic, having minimal applications and functions best when alloyed with other metals.
Based in Los Angeles, while growing up David Norland was a chorister, singing in Westminster Abbey, as well as a boy treble in The Elizabethan Consort of Voices. Later, he formed the electronic band Solar Twins, signed to Madonna’s Maverick Records, followed by working with Sly and Robbie.
Since 2010, Norland has composed most of the music for ABC’s primetime news documentaries, including Anvil! The Story Of Anvil, along with scoring films such as HBO’s My Dinner With Herve and November Criminals, and supervising the music for Hitchcock, with Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, and Scarlett Johansson.
Norland explains his musical evolution, “The music I want to make has changed over time — from imitation baroque pieces as an 11-year-old chorister, through guitar pop with my first teenage bands, experimental sonic works with my first rudimentary recording equipment in my early 20s, through electronics, drum and bass, and reggae, leading finally to piano, choral, and string music informed by my film scoring work.”
“Agate Or Barium” opens on an elegantly austere piano, followed by the entry of soft suffused strings, radiating subtle tones of deep melancholy. A single violin infuses the music with yearning, haunting colors, pregnant with the stillness of an unyielding force lingering over a sense of imminence.
The harmonic flow emerges on gorgeous cashmere textures, imbuing the music with mysterious allusions and sonic turns of phrase. When juxtaposed with the fleeting visuals, the slow parade of the music underscores the residual feeling of isolation and sorrow.
Like a surreal stream of consciousness, the video for “Agate Or Barium” echoes an inarticulate cry of pondered sadness through the accelerated footage of the film La Metropolitaine, in which the lead character pursues love across seven mass transit systems. Amid the hectic hurried activity, the non-earthliness of the earthly bodies takes on a dreamlike movement, delicately exaggerated.
“Agate Or Barium” is ineffably beautiful, full of titanic hovering emotions.