Bottler and El Popo Sangre offer a critical commentary of humanity and digital culture in Tacoma

There’s a subtle art to crafting a visual to accompany a piece of music that often goes under appreciated. A vivid articulation of sound to help illustrate that inner meaning is crucial. The pairing of artists is important, and in the case of Bottler and El Popo Sangre, they’re a cosmic match.

On ‘Tacoma’, Bottler provides a dissociative means of expelling life’s stresses and worries. Seven minutes of release through grating techno, relentless kick drum and a myriad of exhalative vocal samples unleash those inner concerns with every beat. ‘Tacoma’ is a wave, rushing through every inch of your body.

In contrast, the accompanying video subverts the track to dive deeper into those worries that Bottler are so desperate to expel. 

El Popo Sangre, the moniker for Paulin Rogues, is a French indie filmmaker and editor. His work is heavy with sardonic humour and examines an array of references, creating something both absurdist and fascinating. 

His entirely 3D film for ‘Tacoma’ is hard to look away from. Vibrant, larger-than-life colours and a jarringly fine line between the real and computerised make it a layered, intricate watch. The pliable nature of El Popo Sangre’s work speaks to the stylistic exploration that is characteristic of Bottler’s sound. 

“There’s something meaningless about a solitary vocal sample being stretched across such a huge space”

The two artists compliment one another’s ability to be flexible and innovative completely on ‘Tacoma’. Pat Butler, one half of Bottler, remarks on the track: “On Tacoma, we took a single vocal note and stretched it to its furthest extent. The sound of a voice being mangled across the outermost edges of the universe reminded us of Postiche [El Popo Sangre’s short film]. 

There’s something meaninglessness about a solitary vocal sample being stretched across such a huge space. The inner monologue as you dissociate from any capacity to have human feelings. You search for the words, but nothing comes out other than the sounds from Tacoma.”

The narrative of El Popo Sangre’s film adds an extra layer to Bottler’s work. His high saturation and flashing images act as a criticism against digital culture. So immersed in technology and our phones, there is no denying that in recent years our attention spans have vastly diminished. El Popo Sangre plays into that, utilising those brief, intense moments to capture our attention and hold it. Even if just for a moment.

We’re attracted to the flashing, and El Popo Sangre lures us in. By introducing a series of images that aren’t easily decipherable, he forces a pause to unravel them. This, in turn, invites a moment of reflection and deeper thought that digital culture has perhaps made us strangers of.

“As we become more consumed by technology at our fingertips, do we lose empathy?”

The film holds a real magnetism. The constant hypnotic thrum of the track and blurring of real and surreal offer critical commentary on the current state of our culture. At one point, El Popo Sangre depicts a trio of devils who sit and watch a sinking mass of bodies, straight-faced and unmoving. That passivity to life seems fitting. As we become more consumed by technology at our fingertips, do we lose empathy? The action-less devils are simply onlookers, and it seems we become that too. 

The half-human, half-computer nature of the animation supports this. We’re tangling those wires more than ever before. As much as Bottler’s sound encourages us to let go of those concerns, El Popo suggests these behaviours are much more ingrained than we’d like to believe. Crucially, that sense of not quite being aligned with either world is reflected in El Popo Sangre’s own approach to making the film. 

“This feeling of a person being out of step with their environment, concentrating in their own way to exist as themselves”

On the topic, Paulin Rogues notes: “When Bottler reached out to me, we first had a discussion about their vision of the album. It appeared to me that they have a very introspective way of working. I wanted to express this crazy energy that they have in them, which is the result of a long process of reflection.

The idea was to materialise this sensibility, composed of interiorisation that aims to make a work with multiple dimensions. I started to make several pieces of artwork in different ways, with different messages, some about duality, some about introspection, and more or less abstract.

We had a discussion after each image on how they felt about what I created. We finally agreed on this figure with multiple arms, a sculpture of a character where you don’t know if he is thinking or crying.. but you can feel it’s ready to bloom. The duality of colour: cold for the character, and hot for the environment, reinforces this feeling of a person out of step with their environment, concentrating in their own way to exist as themselves.”

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