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23 May 2019

Cellophane

by Alice May


FKA twigs: “Cellophane” - 4 mins 22s

FKA twigs spent the last year learning to pole dance purely to realise the video she felt simply had to go with latest song 'Cellophane'. Having started at a time when she was recovering from surgery to remove fibroids, she began posting clips of herself practising and becoming ever stronger - and twelve or so months later this promo, courtesy of Andrew Thomas Huang, is the breathtaking result of her hard work.

The track itself is her most accessible to date. Her voice is - unusually - front and centre in the mix, and has the delicacy and tensile strength of silk thread. It's also super-sad. The whole song aches with loss: this is an elegy to her relationship with Robert Pattinson, and the genuine yearning in it compels us to stop what we're doing and just listen.

This impossible fragility and its paradoxical resilience are mirrored in the video's imagery. Stepping out from behind a gold curtain, twigs is herself golden; bathed in light seemingly wrought from precious metal. Her vast platform heels echo as she crosses a stage and begins a sinuous, sensuous pole routine.

"Didn't I do it for you?" she sings. "Why won't you do it for me, when all I do is for you?"

As she performs, the pole becomes a vine stretching into the sky and she climbs it using every last ounce of effort; an allegory for wanting the unattainable, for flying too close to the sun. Phantasmagorical winged creatures with masked faces draw near, revealing her own face beneath. She shatters them with her feet and, exhausted, falls earthward, into mud. Is this a nod to the story of the golden idol who is discovered to have feet of clay and who is thus flawed and vulnerable, signifying disaster?

The glinting cinematography suffused with radiance is stunning - Daniel F Abelló must be pretty pleased with what he's achieved; likewise Aubrey Woodiwiss for the rich, warm, sunset glow of the grade.

Yet what truly makes this piece so resonant, as it were, is the sound design. From the cavernous ambience of the hall at the beginning right through to twigs's shuddering breaths at the end, Ben Tomastik has picked out a filigree tracery of audio moments that gives the promo an extra dimension. What an astonishing piece of work this is.


Film Production: Object & Animal Ⓟ Ⓦ
Director: Andrew Thomas Huang Ⓟ Ⓦ
Production Services: Ira Nepomenko @ Radioaktivefilm Ⓟ Ⓦ
Executive Producer: Morgan Clement / Dom Thomas
Cinematographer: Daniel F Abelló
Production Designer: Fiona Crombie
Art Department: Vladimir Radlinsky
Choreography: Kelly Yvonne

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