“Not Empty” was the first single off Garageland’s second album. And while guitarist Debbie Silvey had left the band, she made an appearance doing backing vocals on this track. “I wanna be free! No empty!” goes the chorus, in a song about the search for meaning in life.
The video goes with this, focusing on a situation of classic emptiness – the modern office. The band members are dressed up in office finery, but they shuffle around the office with a dead look in their eyes because they are empty.
I don’t quite buy it that there’s an entire office full of people who have become completely numbed by their jobs. Surely it’s far worse to be the only one suffering in an office full of people happy with their mediocre lives.
But, ok, for the purposes of this music video, I will accept the seventh floor of this office is full of extremely unhappy people. That’s not even the focus of the video – the focus is bullet time!
The technique had been popularised by The Matrix, released earlier in the year, but bullet time had first been popularised in music videos, including Michel Gondry’s quite good vid for the Rolling Stones’ 1995 cover of “Like a Rolling Stone”.
The bullet time in “Not Empty” is a little clunky – the shape of the camera perimeter is apparent and makes it feel like a very obvious attempt at a gimmicky effect, rather than something that adds to the story. Is the viewer supposed to feel more sympathy for a man who knocks the mouse off his desk if we see it in 360 degrees?
The video ends with one of the workers jumping off the roof onto Vulcan Lane below. But don’t worry – he’s ok. He survives the fall and – in possibly some Groundhog Day-like cruelty – he gets up, unharmed. It’s much easier to just hand in your resignation.
Update: Commenter Dan reveals the bullet time was faked by getting the actors to stay very still, moving the camera around then speeding up the footage. So that’s why it looks clunky!
Bonus: And here’s a clip of the band performing the song live on Ground Zero.
Best bit: the olden days of massive CRT monitors.
Director: Paul Swadel, Marc Swadel
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
Next…. brains, and lack thereof.