New Feature! Today’s music videos are different from their ancestors; the field has expanded to the point where it needs redefinition. A modern music video may be a short film soundtracked by an older song, a new song backed by found footage, or a traditional promotional tool. Sometimes the images come first, and the director looks for music; sometimes the music comes first, and the artist looks for visuals. At other times, the creation of a video is a cooperative venture.
Thanks to Vimeo and other such channels, the potential for the short-form, music-backed, dialogue-free video is finally being reached. Uploading is now easier than ever; fans often find their labors of love adopted as official videos. Competing for air time is no longer an issue; if the video is worth sharing, people will share it. Video may have killed the radio star, but the internet has helped the video star. These are some of the best music videos we’ve encountered over the past three months.
Bending Sounds ~ NYC Subway
Director: Tim Sessler
Those who followed this feature on its former site will recognize the name of Tim Sessler from his amazing “Stilles Leben”. “Bending Sounds” is of particular interest to anyone who has ever traveled through the New York transit system, which seems to be populated by random musicians. Yet most of them have passed through a rigorous series of competitions in order to earn their right to perform. This video offers an accurate representation of what it sounds like to pass through the train tunnels and over the platforms: alternating periods of silence, conversation and tune. While these musicians are often ignored (Joshua Bell’s D.C. stint being the prime example), they comprise an important part of the sonic environment. Without them, the transit system would seem much less friendly.
Improv on a Plate
Director: Diego Stocco
Our old friend Diego Stocco (“Music from a Dry Cleaner”) was “about to cut a chocolate cake (when he) noticed a very interesting sound”. The cake seen in the background looks very tasty, and it does seem that Diego ate a slice. Inspired by sugar and sound, he also produced this fun piece. As with all of the artist’s work, it demonstrates a love of pure sound and its sonic possibilities.
Director: Jeff Desom
Music: Johannes Brahms, arr. Hugo Winterhalter, “Hungarian Dance”
Jeff Desom’s video for Hauschka’s “Morgenrot” was nominated for a Vimeo award a couple years back; it’s hard to imagine that “Rear Window” won’t receive the same attention. It’s incredible to think that all of this footage came from the original movie. With the help of tilt-shift photography, Desom makes it seem like something new.
Directors: Romulic & Stojcic
While billed as a timelapse video, this presentation is actually comprised of hundreds of thousands of photographs. It’s a window to a country few of us have seen, and it’s so beautifully presented that it makes one want to travel there. While the score begins as expected, a long period in the middle allows the sound of Croatia to speak for itself, a rare choice that makes a powerful impact.
Director: Tor Even Mathisen
Music: The American Dollar, “As We Leave”
The music of The American Dollar seems ideally suited to timelapse videos; 2011’s “Manhattan in Motion” is a prime example. And the camera of Tor Even Mathisen seems ideally suited to capturing images of the Northern Lights. This amazing footage is a wonderful way to introduce these seldom-seen images to the world, as well as to launch The American Dollar’s new album Awake in the City.
Director: Hugo Goudswaard
Music: Nicholas Jaar, “Columb”
As winter turns to spring, the thaw is in full force. This macro film brilliantly delves into the sights and sounds of the changing seasons. This blend of music, image and sound is abstract yet easy to interpret: he sendeth out his word, and melteth them; he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.
In the Middle (I Met You There)
Director: Morgan Beringer
Music: Matthew Dear (ft. Jonny Pierce of The Drums)
“In the Middle (I Met You There)” is easily the best video of the season: impressionistic, dramatic and memorable. An intense color palette shifts and surges, obscuring and revealing the images within. The overall effect is hypnotic, mesmerizing, and curiosity-inducing, especially on a full screen. Is that photography, painting, or computer wizardry? How did they do that?