LAFF 2010 Review: ECLECTIC MIX 2
Going in to the viewing for the LA Film Festival's second helping of music videos, ECLECTIC MIX 2, I was unsure how a seemingly random group of artists with varying styles would play with and relate to each other. Then I realized, I review soundtracks and at the end of the day, aren’t soundtracks simply a group of seemingly random artists grouped together?
After viewing the collection, it seemed to me that the common thread between all these videos was the idea of fantasy in that none of the narratives that played out were wholly based in reality. The spectrum of the absurd varied from the extreme to a simple juxtaposition of a band in a slightly off location.
My top two videos played on both ends of this spectrum. Rex the Dog’s “Bubblicious” (directed by Geoffroy De Crecy) played on the band’s name rather than the song featured in the video. One of the most creative videos, De Crecy started out with shot of a pair of hands creating paper cutouts that eventually became the lead singer and then Rex the Dog himself (jamming out on the keyboard and drinking his fair share of Slurpees). The amount of facial expression and personality exuded by both characters was outstanding and really brought the video to life.
My other favorite was “Breathturn” by Hammock (directed by David Altobelli), which was one of the only predominantly instrumental pieces and starred a happy little boy enamored with making paper cranes. A seemingly innocent scene, the child and his pretty creations played against the backdrop of a dilapidated building full of dirt, leaves and trash. Not the place for a child to be, especially one so happy and content while entertaining himself. In the end, he helps a bird with a broken wing “fly” out the window along with his paper cranes and runs out to reveal dozens of cranes blowing in the wind for him to dance and run through. I found this image in such a seemingly sad environment surprisingly touching and beautiful. The fact that the song itself is quite pretty only helped further this feeling.
The majority of the songs and bands featured were heavy into the influence of using electronic instruments in their songs and it worked well with videos of half-people/half-cartoons (“Keep It Goin’ Louder”), video game narratives (“A Volta”) and, in the slightly more gruesome of all the selections, reconstructing human and animal remains to bring them back to life, only to kill them once again (“Blonde Fire”). A handful of the bands were more instrumental such as Hauschka’s “Morgenrot” in stripped down black and white with just a falling piano and “Evident Utensil” by Chairlift with the images turning into each as elaborate mosaics.
Two of the videos actually used different body parts in odd places with both The Most Serene Republic’s “Heavens to Purgatory” and Two Door Cinema Club’s “I Can Talk” having disjointed limbs playing instruments independent of the musician’s body. “Do It Again” by Galactic featuring Cheeky Blakk might have been the most humorous by using booties as people’s faces with different hairstyles, mustaches and accessories to differentiate the characters. It was actually interesting to see how you could believe the butts to be faces when focused in on just that and then when you pulled back and saw that they were actually attached to dancing legs, the visual of the two was almost more impressive.
Two members from OK Go (along with a handful of the other video’s directors) were on hand for a quick Q&A after since they were not only the stars of their video, they had a hand in creating the idea of the video themselves. Known for their music videos (thanks to their use of treadmills in “Here It Goes Again”), the band did not disappoint with an elaborate mousetrap style rig that spanned the song’s entire three minutes, ending with the band getting shot in the face with different colors of paint (alluded to in their paint splattered outfits as they popped up to sing throughout the video). The increasingly age old question of, “without MTV playing music videos anymore, where do the videos go?” came up. I thought the boys did a good job in answering that videos are really to enhance the song’s experience, not rack up the most number of plays on a countdown. Plus, without the pressure and viewership of MTV, it has allowed artists the freedom to get back into more creative narratives and not feel the need to fulfill a label’s marketing department or cable channel’s motives of what they would want to see in a video. Video may have killed the radio star, but I think this proved that broadcast video had killed some artist’s inspiration and creativity and maybe in the end, it’s not such a loss to be without it.
1. “A Volta” – N.A.S.A. (Directed by Alexei Tylevich)
2. “Blonde Fire” – The Hickey Underworld (Directed by Joe Vanhoutthegem)
3. “Body Shot” – Electric Six (Directed by Nabil)
4. “Breathturn” – Hammock (Directed by David Altobelli)
5. “Bubblicious” – Rex the Dog (Directed by Geoffroy De Crecy)
6. “Do It Again” – Galactic feat. Cheeky Blakk (Directed by Joey Garfield)
7. “Even in the Rain” – The Fiery Furnaces (Directed by Scott Jacobson)
8. “Evident utensil” – Chairlift (Directed by Ray Tintori)
9. “Heavens to Purgatory” – The Most Serene Republic (Directed by Ben Steiger Levine)
10. “I Can Talk” – Two Door Cinema Club (Directed by Megaforce)
11. “If I Had a Heart” – Fever Ray (Directed by Andreas Nilsson)
12. “Keep It Goin’ Louder” – Major Lazer feat. Nina Sky and Ricky Blaze (Directed by Jason Miller)
13. “Morgenrot” – Hauschka (Directed by Jeff Desom)
14. “Move (If You Wanna) – Mims (Directed by Keith Schofield)
15. “Northern Lights” – Bowerbirds (Directed by Matt Amato)
16. “Ready, Able” – Grizzly Bear (Directed by Allison Schulnik)
17. “See Fernando” – Jenny Lewis (Directed by Alan Tanner)
18. “This Too Shall Pass” – OK Go (Directed by James Frost)
19. “Trouble Hunters” – Astronautalis (Directed by Mark Hubbard)