Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Friday, September 30, 2005

At home she feels like a purist

(w/ thanks to Kim for Brit scene reportage)

My resolution not to watch the S-K Jumpers video more than once (worship music, not musician; crush out on guitar work, not C. Brownstein in a suit) has only resulted in me watching the new Ladytron videos over and over again in an effort to figure out what the hell is going on in them. Really--in Sugar, are Helen and Mira supposed to be getting married? In, like, a goth notary public's office of the future? And in Destroy Everything You Touch, are they chthonic snow mountain divinities, or did somebody just have some extra white cake makeup and some bonsai trees laying around that day?

They should probably turn me off, all of the faux-geisha mouths and ironed hairdos and nods to glossy fashion mags. And they do. But the Tron are so fantastically upfront about it--so outrageously, violently honest in their quest for artifice--that they skip past annoying, shimmy over problematic and wind up somewhere out near interesting, if only in a hey-look-at-that-piece-of-tinfoil-in-the-gutter sort of way. Plus, I'm still handicapped with residual loyalty due to the wonderfulness that was 604. A good-ass record, that was. And that was in 2001, decently pre-electro frenzy/Kraftwerk strip-mining bonanza (c.f. early Fischerspooner).

The eye candy angle aside, it's still up for grabs what the point of making music videos actually is. If a song does what it's supposed to, it should conjure up a synesthetic Skittles California Fruits buffet of images, tastes, moods and vistas all by itself, without the band ever having to hire a director, much less rent out a soundstage. Watching Jumpers, for example, feels totes redundant (opp. to study Carrie's fretwork excepted), because when I hear it, I already see a video inside my head. Chefs don't go around composing symphonies for you to listen to while you eat their food.

Only something like Kimya Dawson's Lullaby for the Taken video (Mercury to Ladytron's Pluto in the solar system of m-vid concept & design), not in spite of being quaint and beautiful and K Recs earnest, offers something like a defense of the vid imperative. When Kimya sings about her grandma dying, and her flickering video self attaches tiny wings to a granny doll at the same time, the sounds and images join forces on the same multi-media all-star team, and you notice things about the music you wouldn't have w/o the visuals, and vice versa. And then everybody wins.

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