February 26, 2008

Music and Video

In this post, I want to collect three great music videos together in one place, a kind of variation on a theme in three parts. These videos each make creative attempts to translate the musical structure of particular songs into a visual objects.

The Avalanches - Frontier Psychiatrist Directed by Tom Kuntz Mike Maguire

If you need hard evidence of how awesome post modernism and the concept of collage can be I suggest this video. It's a basic visual realization of the extensive sampling found in the song with a virtual big band of actors taking on the style particular samples. The work overlays the contexts of big band music, stage musicals and plays, music videos and electronic music.

Daft Punk - Around the World Directed by Michel Gondry

More nuanced than Frontier Psychiatrist, we have Around the World, a brilliant song and video that was one of the first chances the world had to experience the genius of Michel Gondry. The thing to note about this video (and this is difficult to see if you don't have a background in music) is that the visual elements are an almost allegorical representations of the song's musical structure. For example, the base line is manifested on the stage as the four small headed track suit guys. These guys step to the rhythm of the base and go up the stairs as the notes ascend and down as they descend. Every actor in the video can be related to musical elements in this way.

Yet, the characters are not rigidly bound to their corresponding musical elements. There are moments in which the cast breaks from the algorithm and dances to the song as a whole in the manner of a more traditional music video.

Chemical Brothers - Star Guitar Directed by Michel Gondry

The video takes Gondry's previous work in Around the World to the next level. A comparison brings out some of the more subtle aspects of the videos. Around the World exists in an abstract circular space (circular like a record or turntable). Star Guitar is a concrete and linear space (linear like a bar of music). Star Guitar is much more fluid about how it's visuals connect with the music. The visual elements almost become extra instrumentation. This is one of my favorite videos of all time.

Here's a better quality clip of Star Guitar

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