January 22nd, 2011


Music Videos #29: In Which a Fight Breaks Out.

I wanted to wait until I found the name of a particular music video. I wasn't expecting it to take three weeks of frantic searching. I was watching New Zealand's music channel at 11 p.m., muted in the background while I took dictation for the speech my father's giving at my sister's wedding (which officially happens today), and I saw the familiar video. So:

1) Kids of 88, 'Just a Little Bit'
Directed by: Tim van Dammen
From the 2010 album Sugarpills
Watch at YouTube

I'm not necessarily a big fan of these guys; they've always struck me as a bit of a hipster-dance-anthem band, much as that implies an oxymoron, but I'm actually quite fond of the video for this song. It's not perfect, though. These guys are part of a host of similar sounding KIwi bands that have a thing for unnecessary 1980s visual effects, and the weird stereovision effect they have going on is pretty bad. Unless it's meant to be available in 3-D... [EDIT: I got out my red-blue 3D glasses and checked. No, it is not.] But the style of the video itself, all fight-scene with overt sexual undertones, is pretty cool. It includes the actual sounds of gasping from the track itself and exploits them in both the ways they could be seen. Plus, this video gets bonus points for presenting a rather interesting display of alternative sexualities - I may be overstating it, but that's no mean feat for a band to do here.

2) Operator Please, 'Leave It Alone'
Directed by: Duncan Skiles
From the 2007 album Yes Yes Vindictive
Watch at YouTube

These guys, on the other hand, I'm quite fond of. And it's partly this ridiculously cheery homage to Reservoir Dogs-style fight scenes that earned their place in my list of favourite Aussie exports. The whole 'paint as blood' thing has been done before, but never have I seen it done with quite this level of tongue-in-cheek fun and vibrancy that the idea so obviously requires. The fight sequences are surprisingly good, considering that I doubt any of the band members are trained stuntmen, the style (including a few wicked slow motion shots) is brilliant, and there are a few moments in amid the brightness and the paint splatter that are impressively gory. Limbs will go flying, and you may find yourself put off your food. But, oh, it will be worth it.

3) Jonathan Boulet, 'North to South East to You'
Directed by: Special Problems
From the 2010 album Jonathan Boulet
Watch at YouTube

Ah, the wall of death. I've never seen it look so... serene. I saw this video about eight months ago, then promptly forgot the name of the artist, the name of the song, and all of the lyrics. All I had was the description 'a bunch of indie boys colliding into each other in front of a grey screen'. And while that's a relatively concise description, it doesn't go any way towards explaining how this video makes me feel. So I'll try it another way. This song has a drumbeat that feels like I should be running, it has a vocal line that makes me feel like I should be sitting in a forest, and it has a distorted piano piece that makes me feel like I should be waiting for a train. It has a video that runs almost to monochromatism, and this lack of colour sharpens the movement, so the slow motion of the running, the deliberate scuff of the worn sneakers on the floor (a shot that still lingers with me), and the final, gratifying thud of the eventual crashes all resonate with me very, very deeply. There's also something to be said about the editing: in the mass groups scenes, some of the runners are female, but the collisions are between (as far as I can tell) only males. The violence in the actual actions are turned by the slow motion into a kind of embrace, particularly when the runners are cut off before they make contact with one another. And then the editing picks up, in time with the tempo of the song, and starts playing with direction. The slow motion that made the boys embrace now makes them weightless, and they almost start to fly. And that's the feeling that running, sitting in forests, and waiting for trains should always give me. A feeling of disattachment, a feeling of weightlessness.



     So, it's my sister's wedding today, and I'm photographing. It's also pouring with rain.

     Well, there go all the locations I had considered shooting in.
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