Music

PREMIERE: Pheno and Patricia Piccinini release a giant art-pop anthem for ‘We Are The Skywhales’

Uniting artistic symmetry and form, Jess Green of Pheno and Patricia Piccinini are a collaborative dream on their homage to music’s true heartbeat.

A dynamic duo of larger than life proportions: art-pop musician and producer Jess Green of Pheno (fee-no) and installation artist Patricia Piccinini have conspired over a new song. The track is a cerebral, theatrical soundscape that’s a featured part of Piccinini’s latest project Skywhales: Every Heart Sings: an extension of her iconic 2013 hot air balloon sculpture Skywhale. 

Art imitates art as both Green and Piccinini delve into the inner workings of what performative, and thus connective, experiences afford. Skywhale transcended the ubiquitous themes of wonder, nature, and the family union. And so, it was perfectly fitting that the artists commit themselves to the creation of a mini pop-opera to soundtrack the poignant moment of takeoff and whale reunion.

Photo: Patricia Piccinini by Allissa Oughtred
Photo: Patricia Piccinini by Allissa Oughtred

An eclipsing vocalist and electric guitarist, Jess Green (under the pseudonym Pheno) rose to collaborative challenge. Churning a cacophony of oscillating sound, We are a Skywhale is a masterpiece of complexity and nuance. The song is as much a tribal experience of exultation as it could a winning hymn of Eurovision 2021. The murmur of saxophone sits in baritone as an infectious kaleidoscope of synth simmers above. Bouncy and bright, Green’s harmonies are addictive and only give way for a brassy scribble of sound to bring the track to its sixth minute. Produced alongside Alyx Dennison, you’ll be hypnotised by the antics of pure experimentation.

After the National Gallery fo Australia commissioned Piccinini to design a second airballon, a new story of community was born with Skywhalepapa and his babies. In essence, the art piece Skywhales: Every Heart Sings returns to the concept of the pulsating beat within us all. A revolving chant, “every heart sings” is the undulating rhythm of the project itself. Piccinini explains:

“It’s a reference to care but it’s also a reference to the eternal, ever-present music of our beating hearts… I wanted it to be a pop song on the radio, and also a song people could sing when the Skywhales flew, and a soundtrack for the pre-dawn landscape as the Skywhale are being unpacked. I wanted it to be everything.”

 

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A captivating and visceral celebration, We are the Skywhales will support the epic premiere of Skywhales: Every Heart Sings. The event, weather permitting, will take place from John Dunmore Lang Place, Parkes at 5.30am Sunday 7 February.

Talking Heads fans and lovers of St. Vincent and Fiona Apple, look no further. A wild ride, We are the Skywhales is an eclectic and supremely satisfying listen. The track is officially released February 5th and you can pre-save the song on all the usual platforms here.

Until then, enjoy the full track here first: