Patrick Wolf Seeks the Black and the Light on “Nowhere Game”

The melody first came to him while he was in Crimea. After watching a storm brew from the beach, while on his way back home to London, Patrick Wolf started reworking that visual imprint into a sound. Later revisiting the melody he documented and archived away years earlier, the developing song transformed into a more metaphoric look inward, taming the storm within, on “Nowhere Game.” 

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Wolf’s second offering from his forthcoming EP, The Night Safari, out April 14, “Nowhere Game” follows the more delicate pulsing ambiance of “Enter the Day,” his first release in more than a decade since his 2012 double albums, Sundark and Riverlight, and 20 years since his debut, Lycanthropy.

Oscillating between the light and the dark on “Nowhere Game,” the lyrics center around a time when Wolf had stopped singing, save for the recorded “Happy Birthday” messages on his phone for friends and family.

Like a Fleischer Brothers cartoon / Summer is dead / In the water, sings Wolf of the never-ending spiral of thoughts and repetitious actions of “Nowhere Game.”

“Ultimately the song to me is a slow realization of being trapped in any manifestation of a vicious cycle,” says Wolf, “and a long way yet from knowing how to ask for help.”

For Wolf, the lyrics go hand-in-hand with the visuals. Capturing the near-neurotic flashes within the mind, in the video, directed by Joseph Wilson, spastic near-mummified beings reflect all the harder-to-digest moving pieces, and bodies of thought, within the psyche. 

Shifting and shuttering like an iconic 1930s Fleischer animation, the video is the second part of a film by Wilson, which began with the first single, the black and white video. Cracking open Wolf’s more abstract lyrics—A moon bow over bedlam / All of your tranquil / Years oppugned / As a crown of stars  / Circles you—the scene opens with him rowing a boat on a frozen river, to nowhere in particular.

Moving around very tactile visuals, the pieces within the video were mostly handmade, from Wolf’s own costuming, along with the help of ceramicist and interior architect Marco Tullio Siviglia. “Our collaboration, as it came to pass with every creative and dancer involved on the video, became as magical as it was accidentally emotional,” says Wolf. “As we all began to enter past the midnight hour, it soon began to feel like an act of solidarity filming in the abandoned Beacon Hill Fort on the coldest night of 2022.”

Wilson worked alongside movement director Ted Rogers in choreographing the cave-dwelling performers, or “gloms” as they called them, which were inspired by the Greek Myth of  Sisyphus, who was condemned to roll a rock up to the top of a mountain. Once he rolled it up to the top of the mountain, it would only roll back down.

All movements within the video-film were meticulously set to articulate the lyrics. “Patrick spoke about how he had [learned] to let go of his resentments, lifting a great weight off his shoulders,” says Wilson. “So the idea was that the gloms were pulling around their resentments, which start off as small pieces of coal, and develop into large heavy borders as the story goes on.”

Wilson, who found the Beacon Fort location years earlier, was saving it for the perfect project. “Located at the very edge of a quiet coastal town in Essex, [England], the cold concrete structures and its prolific history of war, battle, and invasion created the perfect setting for the ‘Nowhere Game,’” says Wilson. “I remember looking up to the sky and seeing a dozen shooting stars as the performers pulled rocks around Patrick whilst he played the viola.”

He adds, “It was such a moment. Regardless of the fact there was no electricity and it was the coldest day of 2022, it was all worth it.”

Playing all the string sections on “Nowhere Game” and the remainder of the EP— and also taming the cavernous troupe with the violin in the video— the British singer, songwriter, composer, and producer is moving into different spaces with The Night Safari.

“The viola and violin parts on ‘Nowhere Game’ and across the EP are played by myself for the first time since my first two albums,” says Wolf, “proof to me that I had broken one of my own vicious cycles in the end and returned to my craft.” 

The Night Safari Tracklist:

1. The Night Safari
2. Nowhere Game
3. Acheron
4. Dodona
5. Enter The Day

Photo by Kim Jacobsen-To / Erika Tooker PR

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