There’s not much subtlety to be found in The Seeker, the film set to Cloud Cult’s new album of the same name. A girl is born to loving parents (with How I Met Your Mother’s Josh Radnor as the adoring husband and father), grows up in a charming country home with a garden out back and a sky full of stars. The camera lingers over stunning views of farmland, forest and fauna, with heartwarming scenes of a family breakfast and community campfires. Then tragedy strikes, paradise is lost, and we are catapulted into the emotional climax before coming to rest in the warm embrace of redemption.
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But director Jeff D. Johnson’s heavy-handed imagery is forgiven, appreciated, even, when accompanied by Craig Minowa’s moving lyrics and the band’s lush instrumentation. It’s altogether an emotional experience and, until later this year, only available to fans who attended one of a handful of full-length screenings or who donated through the band’s PledgeMusic page and received access to the film one chapter and song at a time (see the trailer below).
“We’ve always been a very visual band,” Minowa explained by email, “with painters on stage and back-screen video, so for more than a decade there has been a desire to do an album/film combo.”
As the band’s primary songwriter, Minowa has long focused on the mystical and on issues of life and death with his lyrics, especially after the loss of his son several years ago, and today, as he attempts to come to terms with his own father’s terminal illness. While continuing to explore these themes for this album, he started to see a cohesive story forming. “A lot of the story is inspired by the lifelong search for connecting with that higher energy and the hereafter,” he said.
The Seeker is Cloud Cult’s tenth album but the first recorded entirely at Minowa’s solar-powered Wisconsin studio. For more than 15 years, Minowa has been working to make the music industry more green through his non-profit Earthology Institute and his label Earthology Records. They’ve planted trees, use organic and recycled material for band merch, and recently converted a plot of land into a public park with community gardens, all part of Minowa and company’s focus on the bigger picture, both physically in their small Midwestern town and metaphysically within the universe. In reference to The Seeker and its themes of life and death, joy and tragedy, and what remains, “I wanted to leave something behind for my family.”
— Stephanie Wargin