When Jason Hammel spoke with me via PopMatters last year, he promised that a new “Mates” album would be ready soon. With the release of Mountaintops September 13, it’s a promise fulfilled and the married duo are now on tour in support of the new release (next Wednesday, Oct. 12 as posted in "Next Up NYC" section to the right, other dates here). Together with Kori Gardner, Mates of State have also produced an enchanting video for the opening track, “Palomino.” Long gone are the days of sparse production with Gardner playing keyboards and Hammel on drums. “Palomino” begins with a lush cascade of sound, a solid introduction before those familiar synched vocals even begin. The band explained to npr that the song is a “reflection on childhood and life’s inevitable progression.” Referencing an old zen saying to “Aim for Cold Mountain,” the idea suggests that “there is always going to be another peak in the distance.”
Director Jimi Patterson deftly uses rotoscope animation to tell the story, filming the live-action material first before digitally hand-painting all 3,240 frames. The couple encounters a series of mountaintops, reflecting the theme of this album. Along the way they even come upon little girls that look like the couple’s two tow-headed daughters, as featured on Gardner’s blog “Band on the (diaper) run.” This video follows their musical journey in a vast landscape of visual expression.