Explosions In The Sky Animate Photographs Their Guitarist Took To Make A Visual Album

The Texas band’s cinematic approach to making music reaches a new peak.

The music of Explosions in the Sky has always been cinematic, which is why they’ve been tapped to compose the score for so many films over the years–from hits like Friday Night Lights and Lone Survivor to indies like Prince Avalanche and Manglehorn. The band’s epic, sweeping, instrumentals have long been as much a visual experience as an audio one. And now–on the day that sees their new album The Wilderness released–they’ve taken control of that visual experience in a new way.


“Scenes from the Wilderness” is an online exhibit of photographs taken by the Austin, Texas-based band’s guitarist, Munaf Rayani, which capture images shot over the past sixteen years of the band’s career. As part of the exhibit, those nine photos–which appear on YouTube–accompany the nine tracks on The Wilderness, and get transformed into a visual accompaniment of the songs, with animation, color changes, distortions, and other elements complementing tracks like “Logic of a Dream” and “Disintegration Anxiety.”

“It was a fun process to watch these photos that I’ve been shooting over the last 16 years come to life as a part of the series.” Rayani says. “These are pictures from our own wilderness over the course of us being a band. I have thousands and thousands of them from our time out on the road, and having these nine come to life has been pretty exciting.”

Multimedia designers CHIPS–who previously worked with Lena Dunham on her book design and website–collaborated with the band to make the still photos come to life. “We’ve been fans of Explosions in the Sky for years, so we were thrilled to work with them,” CHIPS’ Adam Squires explains. “The band gave us a folder of striking and mysterious photos from their worldwide excursions–cryptic travelogue. We chose one to go with each track, and worked with Eric Overton, an amazing animator and visual effects artist, to slowly alter and degrade it, turning it into a sort of moving painting.”

The end result is a visually striking, surprisingly moving way to take in the new album. It’s one that reminds us that there are more images that the band’s music fits than just Panthers football players struggling to overcome the odds–not that there’s anything wrong with that.


About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.