This video is animated, but it took me a while to work out what exactly was going on. It involves simple doodles and line drawings, in black on a curious honeycomb-shaped grid. There was something strangely familiar about all of it, but it wasn’t until near the end of the video that it becomes obvious – it’s in the style of a Magna Doodle.
As it happens, the animation has been made in a much higher resolution than the pixelly magnetic cells of an actual Magna Doodle, but the video takes inspiration from the random stuff that kids create on such toys. There’s optical illusions, chunky lettering, and 3D backgrounds.
It’s almost a bit disappointing when likenesses of the band appear, as it’s obviously based on actual video footage and not a drawing. I think I’d enjoy this video more if it looked like it had been made on a Magna Doodle. (BTW, it can be done – I found this video that was animated using actual Magna Doodle sketches.)
But as things are, it’s still a delightfully quirky video. The only thing missing – the video didn’t end with the image being wiped across.
Best bit: Luke Buda cutting shapes with the autoharp.
“If My Arm…” was a track off the Mint Chicks’ second album Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!, but according to Wikipedia, it wasn’t released until 2008, after five other tracks from the same album. But the path to a music video release is never a smooth ride, so such things should be expected.
By this stage the band had moved well away from the art school high jinks of their early videos, no longer hiding behind crazy costumes. They’re still wearing sunglasses in this video, but are dressed in ordinary black clothes, alternating with t-shirts and jeans.
The crazy is left to other people. Some kids, dressed up in superhero costumes, have an epic battle. The band are kidnapped by strange people who tied them up and kindly put cucumber circles on their eyes. It reduces puffiness, you know. There is also a cat.
It feels like the crazy vibez of the bands earlier videos, combined with a newfound self-consciousness. If this was a Mint Chicks video from their first album, it would fit in with their crazy low-budget world, but coming with the slicker world of the Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! album, it’s actually a bit disappointing the video is taking the path of least resistance.
Best bit: the Busby Berkeley-style overhead dancing, with the band crammed in a weird cone.
The video begins with a title card presenting a schedule of physics-related events that will take place during the video. For example, it starts with “Big Bang”, at 1.54 the fourth event is “Special Relativity”, there’s “Entropy” at 3:08, and it promises to end with “Infinite Expansion”.
The video is shot in black and white, with a vibe of a 1950s sci-fi film. The protagonist is a fellow in mime make up. He goes to work, which involves some sort of construction work in a space with messed-up gravity, and there’s a strange boss-like man who is playing tricks on him.
Back at home, the man goes to feed his cat, who likes to hide in boxes. He is alarmed to discover there are now two boxes, each with “Schrödinger’s Moving Co” printed on the side. He opens one box and is distressed to discover the cat is dead. You know what this means? Previously the two boxes each contained a cat that was either dead or alive. As we definitely know that one of the boxes contains a dead cat, the other unopened box now definitely contains a living cat. So yay, it gets fed.
I don’t know how accurate the physics are in this vid. I suspect there’s a lot of stuff used just because it looks quite good. And I have this idea that if I can understand the quantum physics references, they’re probably only accurate up to a Star Trek level. It’s a lot of semi-nerdy fun.
Best bit: the bossman rolls dice, surely a reference to Einstein’s quote “God doesn’t play dice”.
Guys, let me tell you a story. When I was at primary school, every year there was Calf Day, which was like a mini A&P show for kids. As well as kids bringing their pet calves and lambs to school (did I mention it was a country school?), there were also prizes for things like baking and floral arrangements.
One of the floral categories involved getting an old coffee jar, sticking a wad of Blu-Tack in the bottom, then inserting an arrangement of flowers into it. The jar was filled with water, the lid screwed on and you’d end up with a floral arrangement in a jar filled with water.
Anyway, one year a whole lot of kids started adding food colouring to the water. A light tint might look good, but there ended up being all these jars of darkly dyed water. I didn’t put any food colouring in my jar, and my arrangement ended up winning. The lesson learned: sometimes less is more.
Which brings us back to the “Long White Cross” video. A lot of Pluto’s previous videos have had way too much going on. They’re packed with dense visuals and/or wacky high jinks that end up fighting for domination with the song. Too much food colouring.
But finally “Long White Cross” has found the right mix. It’s a simple performance video, but it’s shot really stylishly. There are no crazy costumes, no gimmicks. It’s just Pluto performing the song (and it’s a good song). Not surprisingly, it was nominated for Best Music Video at the 2006 New Zealand Music Awards. Nice one.
Japanese culture has been used in a lot of music videos, but it’s usually done in a half-arsed way – the random East Asian girls in the PanAm’s “Japanese Girls” video; the videos based around home movies shot around the Yamanote subway line. Finally here’s a video that uses some Japanese style in an interesting way.
The video is set in a smoky bar, and most patrols are wearing military costumes of a vague WWII style. But this is no period drama and it’s not intended as a literal depiction of Japan. Rather there’s a curious sci-fi feeling to the scene – maybe even inspired by Blade Runner. The video also features a fish out of water, flapping around, an instant reminder of Faith No More’s epic “Epic” video.
It’s lush visuals galore, but the vid also nicely follows the dynamics of the song, from the chaotic explosion in the middle to the transcendent moment of “I’m like a nomad” at the end. It’s all very stylish.
And its stylishness was not unrewarded. “Fuji” was nominated for Best Music Video at the 2006 New Zealand Music Video Awards, with Richard Harling winning Best DOP and Daniel Strang winning Best Editor at the 2006 Kodak Music Clip Awards.
Best bit: the sassy smoker at the bar whose dramatic gesture knocks over the fish bowl.
The one funded video of accomplished jazzman Mark de Clive-Lowe takes us down into a sewer. But it’s a pretty one. The video opens with dreamy still shots of early morning Wellington. Amid all the concrete we find cute jellyfish-like creatures that are making their way to street drains.
Once they jump into the stormwater system, real-life Wellington is left behind and instead we enter a fantastical world, a cross between Hubble telescope footage and an endoscopy.
In places, the video actually looks and behaves a lot like the iTunes visualisation mode. I even played the song in iTunes and there was a lot of familiarity with the images. Maybe Mark de Clive-Lowe is going for the suburban stoner demographic.
The early scenes, with the blobs floating and jumping around Wellington, are the strongest. The rest of the video looks pretty, but there’s less connection with the fully animated visuals. The song isn’t especially in-your-face, but the video should be a bit more engaging than an iTunes visualisation.
Best bit: the guest cameo from Queen Victoria, in statue form.
Korza was an MC originally from Whangarei. He only had the one funded music video, but in 2005 he was also attempting the world record for non-stop rapping, aiming for 27 hours. I haven’t been able to find out whether this was successful, but a warm-up 12-hour session was.
“Reminisce” is much shorter – a sensible 2:53. The video sees Korza in two locations – hanging out at a suburban street party, and rapping in front of a wharenui. It’s shot both in colour and black and white, along with black and white still photos of much higher quality. It reminds me of Katchafire’s “Close Your Eyes” video, which had similar contrasts between video and still footage. Maybe the secret is to just focus on the still pics and not use the less impressive video footage.
Best bit: the three tattooed, shirtless men bonding with bro hugs.
King Kapisi returns with the first single from his third album, Dominant Species. The video is very dark, edgy and urban, a complete change from the fresh outdoor settings of his earlier videos.
The video takes place on the most gothiest basketball court. It’s black, with a black and grey graffiti mural on the back wall. Playing on the court are two teams of four, both dressed in arrangements of black and white sportswear.
King Kapisi also joins in with the neutral colours. Alternating an entirely black and entirely white combo of hoodie and shorts. He wears the hood up and pairs it with sunglasses, which gives him the look of the Unabomber’s police sketch.
The overall black palette of the video does make it seem like King Kapisi is trying to be all tough and serious, which reminds me of New Kids on the Block’s ill-fated attempt to go gangsta in the mid ’90s. But, ok, it is still a very stylishly shot video.
Best bit: the dramatic goal shooting of the basketball game.
The video opens with an intriguing situation – three men in hi-viz vests are sprinting up a stairwell, while a wet Gramsci is found slumped against a wall. What led to this? Oh, the video will reveal all!
In flashback, we find Gramsci holding a small glowing pebble, strangely reminiscent of the pebbles in the 1981 sci-fi kidault adaption of Under the Mountain. Maybe Gramsci is like a grown-up Theo, come to get revenge on the evil Wilberforces.
He puts the pebble in a giant water tank he just happens to have installed in his apartment. He watches the glowing dot move around in the water, and then it mysteriously transforms into a woman in an evening gown.
Gramsci just sits and watches her for a while, unconcerned that there is a lady in his giant fish tank. They both hold their hands up against the glass, which causes it to shatter. His apartment floods and he’s left holding her in his arms.
And this is why the hi-viz team comes in. Is she a mermaid? Are they some sort of rapid response fishlady trauma team? And – most importantly – are the people in the apartment below wondering why all that water is dripping from the ceiling?
Best bit: the return of an old friend from the ’90s – the mermaid’s gown is made from silver fabric.