Frank Ocean came through big time this past week. In addition to dropping his long-awaited second album, Blonde, he also delivered his Endless visual album as well as the Boys Don’t Cry zine. Though we know many people contributed to each of the works, there is one man whose involvement was especially prominent—Tom Sachs.
The American contemporary artist is credited in both the Boys Don’t Cry zine as well as Endless. Not only did Sachs allow one of his boombox pieces, Toyan, to be featured in the 45-minute visual album, he also assisted Ocean with the “Stairway to Heaven” component.
Soon after Blonde and Boys Don’t Cry were released, the 50-year-old artist spoke to Pitchfork about his involvement in the works and how he connected with Ocean.
“He called me on the phone and we started a dialog about a lot of things that we’re both interested in […] So we started on the phone and then we met in person in New York and in L.A. a few times,” Sachs told Pitchfork. “And we’ve dicked around with a few things in the studio. In my studio, and I worked a little on the zine, which I haven’t seen yet.”
Sachs went on to explain that the Endless visual album we see is an edited version. The full piece is about 140 hours long and shows Ocean building every part of the spiraling staircase, which they refer to as the “Stairway to Heaven.” He said the footage is intended to symbolize transparency—“one of the foundations of hip-hop and soul music.”
“You see each stair being stacked on top of each other onto a central steel column that’s welded and bolted to the ground. So there’s a transparency to the building that is the same as the transparency in the music,” Sachs said. “Frank’s music is simultaneously complex and simple. But no matter how you slice it you can hear what’s going on. And there are sounds that are not musical sounds that are used musically to convey a mood. And all of that stuff is transparent and helps communicate how the music was made.”
You can read Sachs’ full interview here.