ACL 2019 ~ The Year’s 10 Best Music Videos

The Golden Age of Music Videos ended with the decline of MTV; but as much as MTV launched the popularity of the format, it also delayed its evolution.  In the Silver Age, restrictions are gone.  Videos no longer need to be added to a curated playlist; the appealing ones are liked and shared.  While big-name directors still have a better shot than bedroom artists, the festival doors are open to all who choose to enter.

Vimeo continues to be a champion of quality videos, as their Staff Picks help separate the wheat from the chaff.  While only a small fraction of today’s music videos are instrumental, a good portion end up on the influential channel.  Many of our other selections arrived with the albums that spawned them. Our taste continues to lean toward the experimental and abstract, but if you share our taste, you’re in for a treat!  And now, A Closer Listen presents The 10 Best Music Videos of 2019.

Max Cooper ~ Circular
Director: Páraic McGloughlin

“Circular” is the first of three videos on this list from Max Cooper, whose latest album Yearning for the Infinite keeps looking better and better.  It’s also the first of two videos on our list from director Páraic McGloughlin, who also appeared on last year’s list with Max Cooper’s “Someday.”  It’s all connected!  The human aspect of this video brings it to a metaphorical level that deepens the appreciation of the entire project.

Canigou ~ “Tape”
Director: Hideki Inaba kanahebi

Continuing in the ambient genre we find Canigou, whose music is brought to life through the intricate animation of Hideki Inaba kanahebi.  The level of detail is amazing, like an aquarium brought to life. We include a huge bonus for synching the clicks and pulses with the visuals.

Recycled Sound
Directed by GoshDamn
Cinematographer / Dominic John
Producer / Jess Edge
Editor / Dominic John & Josh Lawson
Sound design & Composition / Dan Pollard

Coldcut’s “Natural Rhythm” helped us to reimagine what a music video could achieve.  Taking up the banner in the 21st century, we find Dan Pollard and his amazing crew, who find percussion in the toil and texture in the sawdust.  They create instruments, but the act of creation is itself a musical piece.

Textless
Directed by: Gareth Smith
Drums: Jonathan Pinson
Animation: Gareth Smith, Theo Alexopoulos
Music Consultant: Jake Bloch
Sound Design: Theo Alexopoulos

This is something we’ve never seen before.  Text leaks from signs, ever more rapidly as the drums grow ever more frantic.  “Textless” also makes a great metaphor for our site, as we specialize in instrumental music.  Our favorite part: the head falling off the person on the crosswalk sign.  Having no neck finally caught up to him.

Laurence Pike ~ Drum Chant
Director: Clemens Habicht

Clemens Habicht takes a simple concept and makes it so much fun!  By transforming mallet heads into “bouncing balls,” he brings out the playfulness of Laurence Pike’s piece, leaking complexities of color, sound and light.

The Comet Is Coming ~ Summon the Fire
Animated by: RUFFMERCY

The Comet Is Coming is one of the most exciting acts in the industry, and this video captures the wild nature of their music.  Cartoonish, colorful and propulsive, RUFFMERCY’s animation is a synesthetic representation of their sound.  We love the 80s vibe, the crazy ears, and of course, that sax!

EPOCH
Film and Sound design by Kevin McGloughlin
Selected images : Google Earth
Audio Samples : Nasa

Wow, there are a lot of images in this video.  Kevin McGloughlin uses Google Earth to find patterns everywhere, and to suggest new associations.  Crop circles suggest Pac-Man, clocks, and exploding stars; roads morph into thermometers.  The electro-acoustic sound design makes the images all the more intriguing.

Weval ~ Someday
Director: Páraic Mc Gloughlin

Images:  Personal photography, Google Earth

The director of Max Cooper’s “Someday” (from last year’s list) returns for another stunning journey.  A fascination with stairs, doors, roads and passageways leads to the question, “Where are we going?”  The answer is unclear, but it starts and ends with the forest: the only unhurried images here.

Max Cooper ~ Perpetual Motion
Director:  Nick Cobby

The second of three videos from Yearning for the Infinite to be honored here, “Perpetual Motion” portrays Mexico City as a “perpetual system” awash in movement and fractal geometry.  At times (especially in the crosswalk), Cobby’s work recalls Baraka ~ although the music is much faster.

Max Cooper ~ Repetition
Director:  Kevin McGloughlin

And finally, the traffic jam that we never want to get caught in, thankfully on a road that doesn’t exist.  This is the second appearance on our list for Kevin McGloughlin, the third for Cooper.  The concept is that we are hurtling toward destruction, thanks to our desire for acceleration.  Will we ever slow down?  The brief glimpses of nature ~ here and gone ~ suggest that we might, if we can only exit the highway.

Richard Allen

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