A collaboration between the London-based producer aircode, director Federico Barni and the South London Botanical Institute.

On her debut album Grounded, aircode pulls focus on the microscopic ecologies of moss plants to illuminate the often chaotic biological systems that permeate everyday life. Corralling guitar, piano, voice, skittering percussion and cavernous low-end into richy textural, deeply evocative tracks, the producer navigates an esoteric path through recogniseable sounds. ‘Spores,’ a sinister highlight from the record, sets foreboding squalls of noise against creeping horrorshow keys and ritualistic percussive clanks, constantly flirting with the sinister suggestion that something ancient and sprawling lurks just beneath the surface.


“I thought the way mosses, their life cycles and ecosystems informed and transpired into Julia’s music was a perfect example of how the language of biology is more often awe-inspiring than sterile, creating ripples and suggestions in everything it touches,” explains director Federico Barni, who teamed up with the South London Botanical Institute to create an atmospheric visual to accompany the track. “Julia and I decided it would also be interesting to add a documentary element to the video and reached out to the South London Botanical Institute.” Combining documentation of the institute’s extensive moss and liverwort collection with alien close-ups of the plants, Barni’s video is part archival footage, part sci-fi thriller.

“It was great to experience the collections as seen through the eye of a botanist,” he continues, “someone who was able to tell us about many of the people who collected these specimens more than a century ago as well as how bog moss was used to dress wounds during WWI or as animal stuffing by taxidermists. His words really made these dry, ancient specimens come alive, in a similar way to how the moss samples we had gathered to film in the studio came back to life once rehydrated.” Cutting between a third person perspective and the perspective of the botanist, as glimpsed through the lens of a microscope, aircode and Barni explore interconnected ecological systems at both a micro and macro level.


For more information about Federico Barni and his work you can follow him on Instagram and visit his website.

Grounded is out now, on Alien Jams. You can find aircode on Instagram.

Spores Credits:

Director – Federico Barni
DOP – Mark Gee
Colourist – John O’Riordan
Art Dept – Paddy Hornby
Special thanks to Roy Vickery and Nell Gatehouse from the South London Botanical Institute

Watch next: Azu Tiwaline & Defasten conjure audiovisual talismans, live at MIRA 2021



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