The art of the music video reached new heights in 2010. There was Charlotte Gainsbourg's amazing collaboration with Beck, Kanye's hip hop ballet extravaganza for his unanimously fawned-over new record, and a dizzying collection of videos from Tame Impala's crew. But it was also an outstanding year for the experimental and avant-garde. We've gathered five of the year's best in the world of the fringe.
In a world where it seems like everything's already been tried at least once, musicians and artists challenged themselves and their audiences to open up to exciting new frontiers in the realm of audio/visual, treating the medium itself as a dynamic canvas. With the rise in Vimeo and the undeniable influence of Facebook share/likeability, a veritable explosion of high-quality clips have been successfully making rounds and inspiring a growing global sub-culture to join in the fun: to comment, think, and respond with their own unique creations. Friend the right folks, follow the right accounts, and you were bound to find something astounding on a daily basis.
Though there are dozens (if not hundreds) of others out there that are more than worthy of a peep, here are five that highlight music ranging from the bold to the beautiful and visuals from the frightening to hilarious. A note: for all of these, headphones and full-screen viewing are not just highly recommended, they are absolutely required. Enjoy!
5. Modern Witch - "Frozen in Time" (dir. Mario Zoots) Denver's own (and Amsterdam regular) Mario Zoots continually found ways to draw audiences (however small) into his darkly twisted world and keep them there. This video for his band Modern Witch was one of the best examples of the double-vision editing technique that defined so many of these subdued, future-goth minimalist synth tracks. It's especially effective here, given the already-creepy nature of the folks bleeding into themselves to become even more terrifying and grotesque. The best way to go is to look through the video a-la working a Magic Eye picture. Relax, submit to the creepiness and let Modern Witch cast its spell. Don't worry, everything will be fine. Maybe.
4. Wonder Wheel - "Purple" (Pradada Remix) (dir. Moduli TV) Note: NSFW Moduli TV is one of the many guises of Frank Oulette, a Montreal-based sound and video artist who, in the span of a single year, managed to make and upload 38 outstanding morsels of eye-candy for our viewing pleasures. The man is simply a machine, and this video for his remix (as Pradada) of a Wonder Wheel track is arguably his best work to date. It's absolutely thrilling despite its relatively slow pace and soft, analog TV-filtered crossfades. Oulette underscores the adrenaline and electricity of sex without sacrificing any of its beauty, and the ghostly overtones he pans across the ears match the piece's overall unnerving feel. People pining for the next Chromatics record should find this a satisfying appetizer for that big, juicy nugget of dark-pleasure pop sure to hit our plates next year.
3. CFCF - "It Was Never Meant to be this Way" (dir. Rob Feulner) The track is like a piano taking a bubble bath in a steamy, milky broth of liquid synthesizers. Saturated with swirling effects and overflowing with an aching, very natural beauty, this little tune exudes magnanimous feelings of longing and nostalgia as it sifts through your subconscious. Which brings us to these dream-like holograms of Garfield and Odie in their classic Halloween adventure (a childhood favorite, for many), mined here for the basis of this stunning video. Rob Feulner massages these simple cartoons with vibrant color and static while softly layering images like sheets of disintegrating wax paper. It's a prime example of just how much can be accomplished with very little source material to draw from.
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2. Pleq - "White Moth in the White Coat" (dir. Volkan Ergen) One of the more unsettling portraits of sexuality to hit a music video this year comes from the kind and generous Bartosz Dziadosz who makes acoustic-electronic music (tons of it - this kid has five full-length CDs released in this year alone) under the name Pleq in Warsaw, Poland. Remember that thing about "headphones and full screen required?" The intricate details of both the music and visuals don't quite sink in unless experienced in all of their true glory. The man's flaming hair at around the 1:30 mark, or some of Pleq's microscopic, nuanced shifts in the flow of his thunderstorm-swathes of static, for example, are both easy to miss. Gorgeously filmed with images so vividly sharp, you can almost scrape the dirt off of the man's arms or run your fingers through the woman's hair. It's very real, authentic camera work is what somehow makes it the creepiest video of the year.
1. Jib Kidder - "Lossy Angeles" (dir. Jib Kidder) Words cannot... should have sent.. a poet...
All kidding aside, don't make it out of 2010 without sacrificing 20 minutes of your busy schedule, shutting down your brain and staring at this clip to the very end. As blankly as possible. And don't let the first minute throw you either, although that is quite the lovely rendition of "Amazing Grace." "Lossy Angeles" finds a way to retain your attention despite its relatively daunting length. Jib Kidder's randomized split-second rapid-fire of images spew past your synapses, hypnotizing the teeniest corner of your brain that whispers softly into your conscience to go blow up a network television station. One might read this masterpiece in video sampling as something of an East-meets-West pop culture collision nightmare overload spectacular. Yes, it's that, only times like a million. And no matter how mesmerized you get, don't forget to keep an ear on the sometimes-uppity, other times ultra-chill beat smithery either. Complete, unequivocal genius, this video.