If dreams had soundtracks, they’d mostly sound like the music of Bat For Lashes. Bat For Lashes is Natasha Khan, an English-Pakistani artist born and brought up in the UK. She performs with Ben Christophers, Charlotte Hatherley and Valentina Magaletti. Her background in the visual arts is quite strongly reflected in her music and the actual videos of her songs. Her process is a highly visual, which means she works the entire song out as an visual and musical exercise, making her one of the few artists out there whose talents extend beyond just making music.
Over the course of this article you’ll see how powerfully the visuals meld with the music, through its surreal imagery and vivid choice of colour. She seems to have a penchant for using red quite prominently in her videos (this does not happen much in the album art), but this might just be an observation formed thanks to my own inclination towards the colour.
Fur and Gold, her first album, was released in 2006. With songs like Horse and I and The Wizard, it has quite a fairytale theme to it. This is the video of What’s a Girl to Do, which is quite a layered track. The song is essentially about the feeling of subtly falling out of love with someone for no reason in particular (that does tend to happen sometimes, doesn’t it), but the video is like a surreal homage to Donnie Darko:
The American release of the album had a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire as a bonus track. It’s amongst the most original renditions of a cover I’ve come across; it actually took me a while to make the connection to the original Springsteen song.
2009 saw the release of Two Suns, the second Bat For Lashes album. The album explores a theme of duality. The following track is a concert recording from a performance at Galstonbury, of Glass, the first track from Two Suns. Live performances are usually the best test for true talent and you can see her shine through the highs and lows of the song here:
The second song on the album is Sleep Alone, which is amongst a few songs on the album which have a very clear 80’s feel to it. You’ll see the prominent splashes of red I was talking about earlier in this video and the next one. This might only be my interpretation and there is a small chance my interpretation might be wrong, but I think the bit with the kids with the little lights represents her experiences with racism and the peer pressure of drug usage:
Daniel carries on the 80’s sound even more prominently. The song is about the character Daniel LaRusso from The Karate Kid movie (the original 1984 version). The video is amongst the best made and most surreal of all her tracks:
This final video is probably the most prominent representation of the theme of duality through the whole album. “Pearl” is an alter ego of sorts, a polar opposite-blonde, destructive and self absorbed. This is Pearl’s Dream:
At the time of the writing of this article, Bat For Lashes isn’t currently on tour. The album Two Suns did see a special edition release with a DVD of a documentary called 2+2, which features Natasha talking about the conception of the album and how she writes music. I haven’t seen it yet, thought I’m sure it’d be and interesting watch.
Special thanks to the YouTube channels of EMI music and Parlophone (the label under which Bat For Lashes records) and YouTube users Liafanog and Rancidfever for the videos.
Do comment if the videos don’t play in your country, I’ll link up alternates if this happens.