Part art film, part performance piece, ‘The Machine Air’ is a fever dream visual poem and the first film to be both about – and recorded by – flying drones. Created by speculative architect and director Liam Young, it jams together Youtube and Liveleak rips with specially filmed, astonishing aerial shots of Indian textile factories and Bolivian lithium mines – the first time ever captured on camera. Premiered in its original form at BFI London Film Festival, it’s since been screened at the likes of Sonar Festival and Eindhoven Bienniale.
Matthew Barnes’ score, presented here sculpted and edited into 14 individual tracks, echoes the film’s cyberpunk claustrophobia: smeared sci-fi synth and distorted melodies rattle alongside metronomic rhythms and stretched samples, rewiring the hums of flying vehicles into warped and contorted sound design. Intimate piano melody weaves with sub bass, while woozy electronics and strings mirror the fluttering of the machines as they hover skywards, powering up and down.
‘The Machine Air’s soundtrack navigates the tension of this tech in our lives: drones simultaneously used as autonomous killing machines or aid delivery vehicles; surveillance robots or Amazon shopping tools. While Barnes’ previous work has retooled organic and human sounds into modern electronic worlds, here he pushes and pulls the music into beautiful, more dystopian shapes, combining with Young’s visuals to give a chilly glimpse into the near future.
Edition of 300 only, on black vinyl with insert, packaged in a reusable PVC sleeve. The cover features a prototype of a police surveillance drone by artist Haw Jia Jun.
Produced and mixed by Matthew Barnes in Liverpool and London. Mastered by Denis Blackham (Coil, Cabaret Voltaire, Eurythmics).