Karasti's ‘Hel’ is a pandemic self-portrait

In Lance Karasti’s latest film, a 45-minute, self-made funhouse mirror of introspection, a character named Lance meets other versions of Lance — sometimes resulting in synchronized swinging (“we’re married,” one Lance chirps to no response from the other Lance), sometimes ending in a knife fight and the presumed death of a Lance at the hands of another Lance.

“Hel” was originally intended to be a larger project about simulation theory, starring more than just the local filmmaker known for his abstract subjects and experimental techniques. When the pandemic hit, Karasti had to reimagine his movie — and learn how to DIY the entire project, skills that were on his to-do list anyway.

“I have a personal filmmaking philosophy,” he said. “I have to react to what’s around me. This project is meant to be a time capsule.”

“Hel” opens with Lance in a three-way mirror unleashing a barrage of negative self-talk — a scene that ends in, TW, self-harm.

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Lance Karasti's "Hel" is a self-portrait during a pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Lance Karasti)
Lance Karasti's "Hel" is a self-portrait during a pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Lance Karasti)

From there, Lance emerges into a beautiful borderline place where he wanders, the only other humans are other versions of Lance.

Much of this is improvised, a technique Karasti has used in his other work, and much of it, created in the past year and a half, came together like puzzle pieces, he said.

“I look at it as more of a self-portrait than a movie,” he said. “I was very depressed during the pandemic. It feels a release to get it into the world.”

“Hel” is available for free streaming on YouTube alongside Karasti’s other feature-length films.

Black-eyed Snakes, fronted by Alan Sparhawk (seen here crowd surfing) play Saturday as part of Lake Avenue Live. (2018 file / News Tribune)
Black-eyed Snakes, fronted by Alan Sparhawk (seen here crowd surfing) play Saturday as part of Lake Avenue Live. (2018 file / News Tribune)

Homegrown and things like it

This is traditionally the week that the streets of Duluth and Superior overfloweth with Homegrown Music Festival players and goers and it still is, kind of, in a pandemic-ified way. All of the official Homegrown Music Festival events are available for online streaming and will be archived for viewing at your leisure.

Meanwhile, unofficial festival activities are happening both online and off. See Rich Narum's concerts from 2104, which culminate with Thursday's edition but are also archived; off-road into a scavenger hunt with fun, fest-centric tasks; and the Starfire Unofficial Birthday Bash, named for Homegrown's creator and featuring 18 bands on three stages over four days; and even a Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra concert will be streaming on the Homegrown YouTube channel.

READ MORE: Homegrown Music Festival goes on(line) … and off in other directions

Jennifer Gerth (Image courtesy of DSSO)
Jennifer Gerth (Image courtesy of DSSO)

Speaking of the DSSO …

The Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra's season finale is "From Beethoven to Milhaud," a diverse showcase likened to a quilt. The program includes Milad Yousufi's "Freedom," Osvaldo Golijov's ZZ's "Dream," Darius Milhaud's "Le Boeuf sur le Toit," Beethoven's "Lenore No. 3" and Mozart's "Clarinet Concerto" with soloist Jennifer Gerth.

Per usual, the concerts have a limited number of in-person seats available, and they are available to stream. Duluth Homegrown is also streaming the concert concurrently on its YouTube page.

Gerth is the DSSO's principal clarinet player, and she has been with the orchestra since 1997. Visit dsso.com.

Low's "Things We Lost in the Fire"
Low's "Things We Lost in the Fire"

Low, with visuals

As Low's "Things We Lost in the Fire" cruises past a milestone birthday, we get a new look at the album that music-heads drop into superlative lists of all things 2000s.

The band offered a 20th anniversary visual album last week on YouTube, a collection of abstract videos by artists Shane Donahue, Julie Casper Roth and Allen Killian-Moore that add land and seascapes, the decay of a dollhouse and its inhabitants, snapshots that shapeshift, weather maps and kaleidoscopes to the gorgeous swirl of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's voices.

Find your quietest room, largest screen, and tap into a mood that allows for ultimate absorption.

This nearly hour-long collection is available for streaming on the band's YouTube channel.

"Die Fledermaus" at UWS (Photo from University of Wisconsin-Superior)
"Die Fledermaus" at UWS (Photo from University of Wisconsin-Superior)

UWS' 'Die Fledermaus,' on a screen near you

The University of Wisconsin-Superior is offering a free virtual performance of "Die Fledermaus," directed by Vicki Fingalson.

Johann Strauss' operetta is the story of a big party, costumed attendees, side flirts and mistaken identities with a moment that bears the tiniest resemblance to "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)."

The university's performance, which is a collaboration between the music and theater departments and stars Brock Phernetton and Victoria Thompson, will be available at 7:30 p.m. May 6, and viewers can access it until June 5.

Register at cvent.me/QrQwP5.

Gaelynn Lea performs at Clyde Iron Works during the 2018 Homegrown Music Festival.  This year's festival will be held online. (2018 file / News Tribune)
Gaelynn Lea performs at Clyde Iron Works during the 2018 Homegrown Music Festival. This year's festival will be held online. (2018 file / News Tribune)

Featuring Gaelynn Lea

World-touring fiddle player Gaelynn Lea was recently the featured artist of the day as part of Minnesota Music Month on Minnesota Public Radio. The Current posted three songs, including the traditional tune "Angeline the Baker" and originals "Watch the World Unfold" and "Someday We'll Linger in the Sun," the tune won her NPR's 2016 Tiny Desk Contest. Alongside the three vids, originally part of an educational series for Classical MPR, The Current included a handful of other links to Lea's work, both music and public speaking.