Last year when we reviewed St. Lenox‘s most recent album Ten Hymns From My American Gothic, John Paul said the record was “nothing short of a 21st-century pop masterpiece”. The album also appeared on our best albums of 2016 list. Now St. Lenox has an exciting new project on tap as he is bundling this album with his previous LP Ten Songs About Memory and Hope into a single audio collection as well as releasing a visual album for Ten Hymns From My American Gothic. Each song from St. Lenox’s last album now has an accompanying video and Andrew Choi (a.k.a. St. Lenox) says it is the first individually-made DIY visual album with him creating, playing and recording the music as well as directing the videos. It’s an ambitious and worthy project that could set the stage for more artists to develop these sort of projects given that we now live in a video-driven world.
Both the bundled package and the visual album will release on 23 June. By way of preview, we are sharing the video for Ten Hymns From My American Gothic‘s last track, “When I Return”. Paired with documentary protest footage from director Joanna Arnow, “When I Return” features images of NYC post-election marches against the Trump agenda as Choi goes on a walking tour of the city beginning at Trump Tower and ending at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Choi tells PopMatters, “I released the record for Ten Hymns just prior to the election, thinking that the record would be a celebration of American democracy as I expected a different result. The election results changed the meaning of the record for me, and as I continued to make the videos for the visual album version of Ten Hymns, I was having to grapple with everything that was happening. This video is entitled ‘The Celestine Prophecy’ because I was thinking about coincidences as a source of meaning and hope. In this case, I take the viewer on a walking tour from the image on the back of the record (Trump Tower, before the election) to the front (St. Patrick’s Cathedral), both photos taken before even the primaries were finished. By coincidence that journey crosses direct paths with the path of the protest marches after the election in November several months later. Joanna Arnow was kind enough to provide me with protest footage as I was in Ohio at the time. I put the videos together, and there’s a point where you can see St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the background of both shots, and I must have crossed paths with the flag-waving protester who appears at the end. Anyway, I wanted to express hope with the video, because I think it’s important to be hopeful these days, even though I know it’s very difficult.
Funny story, as we were filming my walking tour portion, we ran into the security at Trump Tower (you can see them nod at us at the beginning of the video), who had recently blocked off 56th street completely. Sam Zeitlin, who held the camera, and I almost got into a bit of trouble, as we wanted to get onto that street to recreate the original shot from the back cover of the record. But of course, they would never let us in, which is why we ended up starting the journey from the 5th Avenue side of Trump Tower.”