My friend Noam Weinstein recently released his latest album, On Waves. The themes of life and death, the flows of coming and going, permeate the album as it was written between the death of Noam’s mother and birth of his son. When he offered to commission me to create an animated video for my favorite song on the album, “Last Reincarnation,” I jumped at the chance.
Noam writes, “I’m not sure if reincarnation is real, but if so it’d be nice to get a bit of credit for my past lives instead of being judged for this one like I’m some kind of earth rookie.” In the song he traces his possible past (and future) lives through ballet dancers, blue whales, superheroes, and suffragettes. I used the visual device of Noam’s green-hazel eyes to represent the common “spirit” wearing the unique masks of each incarnation.
Noam and I have worked together musically in the past (we played in the hip-hop group Omnipleasance with Velcro and my Odds of Survival bandmate Scott Roy), but this is our first audio-visual collaboration.
As I was working on the video, I was reminded of the ending of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha when (spoiler alert) Govinda sees a multitude of faces within the visage of his friend:
He no longer saw the face of his friend Siddhartha, instead he saw other faces, many, a long sequence, a flowing river of faces, of hundreds, of thousands, which all came and disappeared, and yet all seemed to be there simultaneously, which all constantly changed and renewed themselves, and which were still all Siddhartha. He saw the face of a fish, a carp, with an infinitely painfully opened mouth, the face of a dying fish, with fading eyes—he saw the face of a new-born child, red and full of wrinkles, distorted from crying—he saw the face of a murderer, he saw him plunging a knife into the body of another person—he saw, in the same second, this criminal in bondage, kneeling and his head being chopped off by the executioner with one blow of his sword—he saw the bodies of men and women, naked in positions and cramps of frenzied love—he saw corpses stretched out, motionless, cold, void—he saw the heads of animals, of boars, of crocodiles, of elephants, of bulls, of birds—he saw gods, saw Krishna, saw Agni—he saw all of these figures and faces in a thousand relationships with one another, each one helping the other, loving it, hating it, destroying it, giving re-birth to it, each one was a will to die, a passionately painful confession of transitoriness, and yet none of them died, each one only transformed, was always re-born, received evermore a new face, without any time having passed between the one and the other face—and all of these figures and faces rested, flowed, generated themselves, floated along and merged with each other, and they were all constantly covered by something thin, without individuality of its own, but yet existing, like a thin glass or ice, like a transparent skin, a shell or mold or mask of water, and this mask was smiling, and this mask was Siddhartha’s smiling face, which he, Govinda, in this very same moment touched with his lips. And, Govinda saw it like this, this smile of the mask, this smile of oneness above the flowing forms, this smile of simultaneousness above the thousand births and deaths, this smile of Siddhartha was precisely the same, was precisely of the same kind as the quiet, delicate, impenetrable, perhaps benevolent, perhaps mocking, wise, thousand-fold smile of Gotama, the Buddha, as he had seen it himself with great respect a hundred times. Like this, Govinda knew, the perfected ones are smiling.
The imagery was created with Adobe Illustrator and animated with After Effects. I highly recommend the rest of Noam’s On Waves, as well as his other albums.