Starwalker is a collaboration between two electro-pop icons: Jean-Benoit Dunckel (Air, Tomorrow’s World) and Icelandic composer Bardi Johannsson (Bang Gang, Lady & Bird). The title Starwalker – suitably spatial and curious – is an umbrella term for the duo’s new works together. For Dunckel and Johannsson, Starwalker represents the coming-together of two distinctive styles, voices and personalities, and an audio-visual adventure we’re invited to enjoy as it gradually unfolds.
Starwalker is shadowy, poetic, vibrant and complex, and, sure enough, within the secret landscape this duo has created, there are surprises for those who engage. Neither of Starwalker’s sharp-suited composers have ever been afraid to conjure a little darkness and mystery: in addition to his phenomenally successful work as one half of the French duo Air, Jean-Benoit Dunckel has been working with New Young Pony Club’s Lou Hayter under the glamorous guise of Tomorrow’s World, a match made in Lynchian electro-pop heaven. Dunckel has also worked under the name of ‘Darkel’, releasing his debut solo album Darkel in September 2006. The word ‘dunkel’ in German translates as ‘dark’. It would be churlish not to embrace it. Bardi too has a history of compelling and highly acclaimed projects, from his group Bang Gang, formed in 1998, to Lady & Bird (with Keren Ann), taking him from electronica to opera and back. He is also known for his film work – notable projects include his award-winning score for Reykjavik Rotterdam, the silent movie Haxan and a collaboration with Ladytron’s Daniel Hunt, resulting in the score for hit horror movie Would You Rather.
The Starwalker project is in part inspired by both the unpredictable nature of Iceland and the clean, classic design of France, and the result pulls you in with its intensity. That is not to say the duo lack a lightness of touch or a sense of humour, however. On being asked how Starwalker came about, the response was simply that “two artists were put in a blender” and this was the outcome. It couldn’t just be any two artists, however; Jean-Benoit and Bardi are like-minded souls, and the depth of their creative connection is only just being revealed – albeit ‘on demand’. “Starwalker depends on the people’s wish,” they explain. “We are just answering our own and other people’s imaginations. We are fulfilling our own imagination and universe, if they want to be a part of it soon, they’ll get it.” In this era of instant gratification and low attention spans, Starwalker is refreshing in its mysteriousness; we are made to wait and wonder as creations are unveiled gradually. The process can be tracked on the Starwalker Facebook page, and the results are worth the wait. Starwalker has announced that they have finished a full album that will be released in 2016.