Last year. Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo released In Virus Times, a 22-minute acoustic piece that he recorded during the pandemic. A portion of that piece now serves as the soundtrack to an experimental film directed by Philipp Virus (Philipp Reichenheim) who is a longtime Sonic Youth collaborator and also directed the new Dinosaur Jr documentary, Freakscene. It features footage of onetime Atari Teenage Riot singer Hanin Elias wandering alone in the Sahara desert, along with footage of Lee and psychedelic imagery. It premieres in this post and you can watch that below.

"I had wanted to make a video accompaniment for one of the sections of In Virus Times, originally thinking of something very minimal and dark, to match the music," Ranaldo says. "I’ve known Philipp Virus a long time – his sister is married to J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. and he’d previously shot Sonic Youth live on several occasions. He contacted me about using some footage I’d shot of the band during our EVOL tour of 1986, when they were supporting SY, as part of our still-unreleased EVOL tour film, for use in his now-released documentary Freakscene. I mentioned to him that I was searching for imagery for a video from In Virus Times and he sent me a cache of multiple-exposed sequences he’d made, many with mysterious scenes of a woman wandering in the Moroccan desert, a place I have a deep fondness for. It was a very different direction from what I was looking for but the more I watched the footage, especially the desert wanderer, the more it seemed to fit with the lonely quality of the pandemic music I’d made, and to add something new, that I’d not foreseen, in the process. I’d already shot some footage of myself at home in the dark room where the recording was made, and stripped some bits of this into Philly’s images, in an effort to give the whole thing a bit of a personal feel. The end product is a bit rough all around - in what I think is a good way; I’m quite happy with the way it turned out. The fact that Philly’s nom de camera has been ‘Virus’ all these years was some kinda happy accident!"

Adds Philipp Virus: "The collaboration between Lee and I started with my documentary Freakscene - The Story of Dinosaur Jr! He supplied me with amazing EVOL tour footage he’d shot with young Dinosaur and Sonic Youth back in 1986. When Lee contacted me about visuals for In Virus Times it was perfect timing since I did tons of re-mixes of my music videos as Philipp Virus while the first pandemic lockdowns happened. I send him a bunch of options for him to re-mix himself. I loved his choice of visuals and edit - the main footage was taken from a video shot in Morocco for Atari Teenage Riot´s former singer Hanin Elias shortly before the Syrian Refugee drama happened in 2015. It is an inner psychedelic walk through the Sahara in full isolated wideness and solitude. A futuristic walk of change and reflection IN VIRUS TIMES… Re-mixed by the one and only Lee Ranaldo."

Lee Ranaldo plays NYC's Le Poisson Rouge on Sunday, May 22 with Jeff Parker and tickets are still available.

Sonic Youth recently released a live album to support Ukraine relief and an album of rarities. You can pick up classic Sonic Youth albums on vinyl in the BV shop.

The Dinosaur Jr Freakscene documentary screens in Brooklyn at BAM on May 28 and J Mascis will be on hand for an acoustic performance.



Sonic Youth Album Guide

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