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When Chris Pell aka Murlo isn’t making fluid, glossy instrumental grime such as on his latest EP ‘Into Mist’, he’s crafting equally smooth-edged pieces of art. He created the video for title-track Into Mist, which features animated Roman sculptures panning and rotating around abstract shapes, as well as some of the artwork that accompanies his more recent music. Working with a scrawled, intricate drawing style and open, ambiguous 3D computer-generated shapes equally, he’s been art minded from an early stage in life. "My dad taught me how to draw when I was really young and I’ve been working in pen and ink a lot since," he explains.
However, working with computer software to create images has been a fairly recent development. "I taught myself how to use the programs over the past couple of years using Youtube tutorials." The two styles that he learned to manipulate don’t always remain separate, though: "I’ve been working on game design as well as animation, so I’ve been able to integrate the drawings and textures and normal maps to cover architectural objects like ornate beams and wallpaper." While the CGI images are open-ended and shadowy, his pen and ink drawings convey feelings of discomfort and pain – his subjects bent over or crouched in uncomfortable positions to create an unexplainable unsettling reaction.
"I loved doing life drawing when I was studying illustration and I looked at a lot of classical poses in sculpture when I was sculpting the meshes for the Into Mist video. I don’t generally use reference when I’m drawing as I enjoy the practice of testing myself on anatomy, so bodies often become contorted or grotesque. I much prefer using the body as the character’s expression as opposed to the face as well, 'cos you can explain a lot more with body language."
"Yeah, I think it’s all self reflective," he continues, "I find it as a good release to some of the stuff I deal with personally – if I’m having a bad patch, I'll take it out on the person I'm drawing.”
Pell doesn’t like to concern himself too much with concepts when it comes to his art but there is an implied story to the images he creates. "I’m really into fantasy and sci-fi, so I like to come up with stories and little parables that all exist somewhere else. I wrote a short story at uni that outlined this place I made up; it was really badly written. I’m so bad at any type of writing, so it won’t be surfacing, but ever since I wrote it, everything I do is kind of placed into that world. It sounds very corny when I think about it, but it helps me disconnect from where I am."
There are parallels to be made between Murlo’s visual work and his music, while he’s been making both at the same time for a while, it hasn’t always made sense for the two mediums to meet. "I was very club-focused for years," he says, "It wasn’t until last year when I started producing slower, synthier music that I became kind of obsessed with having to have it visually represented as well."
Rinse released the 'Into Mist' EP on November 3rd 2014 (buy).