A channel-hopping cabin-fever-dream flipping from warped boyband ballad to deep-fried fuzz pop, ‘Remote Control’ is the shapeshifting new single from Isle-of-Eigg dwelling psych-pop wonder Pictish Trail, AKA Johnny Lynch. The climactic closing track from his critically-acclaimed fifth album Island Family – released by Fire Records earlier in 2022 with support from Lost Map – it’s accompanied by a mind-melting remix by London electro-pop ensemble Superorganism (released 16th August), as well as a quite possibly groundbreaking multi-channel video, directed by Sam Wisternoff (Ill Spectre Films), who has made all of the videos for Island Family so far. Suitable to the channel-surfing themes of ‘Remote Control’, the video is in fact five different videos, which can be viewed either as a single continuous edit, or all at once on a dedicated viewing platform called Eiggflix, which allows viewers to flick between the five videos at will (almost) seamlessly as the track plays.
“Aesthetically inspired by the fuzzed-up contortions of the Beastie Boys’ ‘Hello Nasty’ cut as much as the trashy Frank Sidebottom comedy gameshow of the same name, ‘Remote Control’ is a song about escaping the anticlimactic dramas of our personal lives, as well as the mercury-rising climatic clusterf*ck of world events, through the glorious medium of online video streaming platforms. Trouble is, the disorientation of endless choice and the emptiness of investing countless hours in two-dimensional characters, leaves you feeling flatter than your flat screen. I’d never felt as much of an islander until the lockdowns hit; I found myself connecting with my surroundings more, but also felt as far removed from ’normal’ life, my friends, and relatives on the mainland, as I had ever been.” Pictish Trail
A strange, unpredictable, sardonic, and yet deeply personal record inspired by all from Fever Ray to The Flaming Lips, Liars, Mercury Rev and Beck, Island Family is Pictish Trail’s contrarian view of arcadia; a search for the euphoric in the bucolic, bound up in sometimes conflicting ideas and feelings around nature and environment, sincerity and artifice, escapism and belonging. It’s an album about how no man can remain an island, however hard he might try. Written and recorded during and between lockdowns, it was produced by long-term Pictish collaborator Rob Jones (The Voluntary Butler Scheme, The Gene Dudley Group). Previous audio-visual excerpts from Island Family have included ‘Natural Successor’ – five-and-a-half-minutes of cathartic churning bass, accompanied by a video in which Pictish marauds across a dramatic island landscape laying waste to land, sea and skies, until he’s chased down and violently co-opted by the vengeful forces of Mother Nature – and ‘It Came Back’, and epic electro hip-hop meets brain-shattering industrial-metal meltdown, accompanied by a video starring superstar comedian James Acaster.
About ‘Remote Control’ video, Pictish Trail writes:
“I wanted the video to match the hyperactive mood-swings of the song, and so chatted with Sam about creating something where there was an interactive element, incorporating different footage. My brother-in-law, Craig, managed to do a bit of genius coding whereby we could sync up five different YouTube videos, allowing the viewer to flip between channels. My pal Jayson Turner managed to mutate that code into an online player, which is now embedded on my website. Like life, any time you make a change, it’s a bit glitchy. Best just to pretend that’s intentional.”
About the ‘Remote Control’ video, director Sam Wisternoff writes:
“Given the pop-tastic nature of the track I originally wanted to make a kind of weird sleazy pop idol type clip. More ideas ended up taking over and Johnny suggested multiple videos colliding. I had the chance to make a silly but sombre cartoon about having a distorted view of the past which will be viewable at some point, I think. Working on these videos with Johnny has been great as he’s brilliant to bounce ideas around with and always brings the goods when it comes to remote filming sessions. This is the sixth video we’ve made together for the Island Family record, and it’s been a lot of fun!”