Sunday, March 13, 2011

The A/V Room

I don't usually deal in music videos, sure there's been the ocassional embedded video to brighten up a band profile; and even that one rant about videos always being set in forests. But, as a general rule of thumb - music promos bore me.
I'd much rather hear the tunes and create visuals with my own imagination than have them prescribed to me. A good analogy would be movies that are adapted from your favourite book, they either fail to capture the spirit of the song or simply don't quite match up to the images you had in your head.
Don't get me wrong, I don't flat out hate music videos, there's still a lot of visionaries in the game that I love and respect. Such as the work of Hammer & Tongs, OK Go's inventive clips, Mark Romanek, Aton Corbjin, Michel Gondry, and by extension, Björk's entire videography - but these are rarities in a sea of dull, thoughtless promos. The industry seems content with a set of three endlessly repeating formulas that have become de riguer, your choice of a) the lifeless 'rock performance' video b) lifestyles of the bling and booty or c) a'quirky' narrative, with an option of having the band members 'act.' Cringe.
I understand there's plenty that try to break away from these set types, but it's often in vastly aimless directions with singular concepts repeated ad infinitum. You wouldn't think it'd be hard to sustain a person's attention for three minutes - but for many it's an uphill battle.
The point is, that good music videos take more than just a good song to soundtrack them. Lately, here's a bunch that actually carry through from their conceptual beginnings to successful execution.

Architecture In Helsinki - Contact High (Dir: Krozm)
Back when AMR first spotlighted the first single from AIH's forthcoming album Moment Bends, I wished for a 'loveable, kooky video.' I was picturing something along the lines of a Rube Goldberg's machine craziness, but this delightfully eighties styled video is a great substitute. Its the little touches, from the cold palette to the simple tech effects, that really make it.

Tyler, The Creator - Yonkers (Dir: Tyler, The Creator)
Further demonstrating the wealth of talent in OddFuture, Tyler lives up to his pseudonym by self-directing this stark, menacing vision for his wonderfully dirty dubstep track Yonkers. It's edgy, dark and in-your-face, long before Haley spits "stab Bruno Mars in his goddamn esophagus."

Sparkadia - China (Dir: Rhett Wade-Ferrell for MOOPJA)
This video has singlehandedly strengthened my love for this song, it cleverly plays out the themes of the lyrics - the vulnerability of love, without resorting to obvious similes. All while maintaining a cool sense of internal drama. After all, who doesn't love watching beauitful people do crazy things in slow motion?

Alpine - Villages (Dir: Yvette Paxinos)
Local Melbourne band Alpine don't just put on a great live show, they've got a great audio/visual package too with arguably their best track, Villages. It's like a mini-ghost story, its creepiness and intimacy colliding in a series of fantastic images.

Emperors - We Are The Rain (Dir: Emperors)
This is such a blindingly simple yet clever concept, its amazing it hasn't been done before. But as far as I know, Perth rock group Emperors are the first.  I'd love to see these pastiches become a trend, fun with your tongue firmly lodged in cheek.

Akron/Family - A AAA O A WAY/So It Goes (Dir: Tommy Yasuhara)
Taken from their winning album with the garbled title, S/T II: The Cosmic Birth And Journey of Shinju TNT, this suitably trippy double A-side video perfectly matches the freak folk act's psychedelics while lending it a humourous sense of post-modernism.

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