The music of Mystical Weapons, a duo formed by Sean Lennon and Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier, is entirely improvised — made up on the fly without any agenda or deeper meaning in mind. But in the hands of video director and animator Martha Colburn, the group's latest single, "Colony Collapse Disorder," takes on apocalyptic themes with swirling religious symbolism.
"I think the film Martha Colburn made added a lot of layers of depth to the song," Lennon tells us in an email. "But frankly when Greg and I were playing, I can't really speak to what either of us were dreaming about. I was trying to play as many instruments at the same time as possible. Had a kick drum pedal strapped to a bass guitar on the floor. Was hitting an electric guitar on a drum stool with a violin bow. Had some synth on hold with an arpeggio setting, and was playing Fender Rhodes as well. It was pretty fun. Then I picked up the guitar for solos and stuff."
Saunier says "Colony Collapse Disorder" came from the first improv session he and Lennon had after deciding to make a record together. "When you're playing the jam the first time you're just thinking about bashing the drums and trying to keep up with the shredder standing in front of you. In other words you're not thinking about themes, you're not thinking about anything. But when it came time to name our jams and think about a video, well let's just say that with Sean Lennon and Martha Colburn involved, things get pretty far out pretty quick."
Colburn says she spent several weeks on the video, animating paper cut outs, pastels and paintings. "I wanted to fuse ancient imagery and some contemporary imagery in an attempt to conjure some kind of meshed, mystical universe. All of these elements, images, icons, symbols float in layers and strobe. I use the Picture Collection of the NY Public Library on 42nd street to find inspiration."
Mystical Weapons' self-titled debut album is out Jan. 15 on Lennon's Chimera Music label.