Every week we take to the digital wastelands and look for the bright points of audio-visual light that is the modern music video. Here are five to brighten your day.
5. The Raven Age — “Salem’s Fate”
I’m not going to bullshit you. This is the cheesiest video I have seen in many a moon, and at over seven minutes it is waaay too long, and yet, AND YET, I love the bloody thing. You probably guessed from the title that this has something to do with witches, and you’re right. As someone that has a small library dedicated to the New England witch scare, I can attest that Ian Collins’ conceptual video has an… unnuanced take on that madness. Despite that, the video captures the dark senselessness of the witch scares, and does so in a way that is human and inviting. It’s like an old Hammer horror film, in that everyone takes a slightly silly subject and plays it with absolute straightness. The result is not something that will end up in my best of the year list, but I bet I end up watching an awful lot late at night.
4. Ansel Elgort — “Thief”
I’m not even going to lie. This video temporarily reduced my heterosexuality from 97 percent to about 73 percent.
3. Opeth — “Era”
This fantastic piece of work comes from director Markus Hofko. The basic gist is that a masked, ghostly figure leads a young boy through the runs of our current human history, only for the boy to realize he has to become the next arbiter of the future universe. It’s a fairly thin narrative, but the imagery as they travel through the remains of the ages is something that belongs up there with stuff like Metallica’s “Unforgiven.” There’s a perfect sense of desolation at play.
2. Crystal Fighters — “Lay Low”
I have never cried over a fish puppet before, but by god I did it the first time I saw this amazing piece of work. Directed by Wayne McCauslin, “Lay Low” is a stop-motion masterpiece about love and loss across the entire spectrum of life. Flowers and fish and birds and people find each other, lose each other, and give birth to new universes that will continue the cycle forever. It’s My Little Pony by way of the Brothers Quay, and every single moment of it made me a happier person.
1. Bastille — “Blame”
Okay, this one is technically cheating since it’s over a month old, but it’s just too good not to share. Bastille is already known for being pretty damned odd when it comes to music videos, but even for them “Blame” is something special and arcane. As far as I can tell it revolves around a strange baptism ritual that has various adherents kissing a singing mouth in the glowing bowl of water, but even that is a poor description. I prefer to think of the whole experience as exultation in motion. It’s something strange and religious given a shifting form, and it’s just plain glorious.