James Culleton is adding a touch of augmented reality to his new children’s concept album Unusual Friendships — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
The Winnipeg singer-songwriter’s album is based on the children’s story Unusual Friendships: A Little Black Cat and a Little White Rat, written by award-winning author (and Culleton’s aunt) Beatrice Mosionier, who created the rhyme-rich fable as symbolism for difficulties Métis persons experience. The tale of acceptance and equality is relayed through a peculiar friendship which blossoms unexpectedly between a black cat and a white rat.
Touched by the story of the dynamic title duo, Culleton decided to take his own shot at Unusual Friendships — but from a sonic perspective. Though he breathed new life into the tale by writing and recording a 14-song, 36-minute concept album, that was just the start for the contemporary multimedia artist.
Culleton also made it his mission to ensure his listeners — whether kids or adults — could be fully immersed in the musical adaptation. So he partnered with an AR app Artivive to turn the listening experience into a wondrous animated adventure. All listeners have to do is download the Artitive app on their smartphones or tablets and scan Unusual Friendships’ album cover to bring it to life with the vivid animation illustrated by James and his 13-year-old daughter Mae Culleton.
The album features Al Simmons on banjo and harmonica, as well as vocal spots from Franco-Manitoban musician Andrina Turenne. On top of that, there’s an adorable chorus of “cats” contributed by some of the children in Winnipeg’s St. Boniface neighbourhood. Unusual Friendships was recorded at Scott Nolan’s Song Shop with Jamie Sitar.