Sunday, 10 March 2013
On "The Balloonist"
The Balloonist arrives as part of an undeniably ambitious cross-media project by Britpop/rock-homaging band The Red The White And The Blue. With a 10-song concept album describing a fraught love triangle already recorded, guitarist Paul Cronin thought of "filling in the gaps" of the story with a series of comic books. His subsequent collaboration with screenwriter Shawn Deloache and artist Wati Norhisham is being released in ten separate chapters, and each is to be packaged with a CD bearing a single track from The Red The White And The Blue. In addition, singer Ed Loades has animated much of the material from the pages of The Ballonist in a series of "comic media videos".
As admirable and at times exhilarating as this campaign is, The Ballonist itself suffers from a flat, banal script which mistakes sincerity and enthusiasm for insight and depth. The dialogue is embarrassingly stiff, the characterisation hackneyed and the plotting as predictable as it's plodding. At its best, the story of two brothers warring over one woman's affections throws up a series of charming images which Norshisham's manga-esque work portrays with charm and precision. A balloon soaring above a still summer's London, a trio of violinists providing the soundtrack to a wedding proposal, the richly coloured cover to the third issue: abstracted from the wearisomely gauche business that they're illustrating, these shots establish that Norshisham may yet evolve into a genuine contender. But for all that there are aspects of the art that are incontestably beguiling, and even given the earnestness which drives the project as a whole, The Balloonist is ultimately nothing more than a eye-catchingly glossy vanity project.
Yet the very idea of a comic-book synergically matched with a original CD is an intriguing one, and it's to be wished that The Balloonist had at least matched the quality of the best of The Red The White And The Blue's music. Released as part of the fourth instalment of the series, the track Anytime is a Nineties-flavoured, wall-of-guitar anthem which would undoubtedly enliven any balmy afternoon in a field during the festival season. But for the moment, The Balloonist is a very smart and promising concept that simply lacks the writing chops to bring it to life.
As always, the Blogger hopes you'll not take a single word he says seriously, and instead suggests that you investigate he project's comic media videos here, as well as The Red The White And The Blue's homepage here.