High Dependency Unit “Schallblüte”

2000-hdu-schallbluteThis is an HDU video. It starts with a circle. It’s shot in black and white and we’re not looking at anything in particular. Suddenly a curtain draws back and we’re on stage with HDU, looking at the band through a fisheye lens.

The stage is draped with white, which gives the impression that they’re performing in a marquee tent, which in turn makes me think of HDU being the entertainment at a wedding. And actually, that would be quite cool. It would be one way of getting rid of your drunk auntie, anyway.

The camera spends a lot of time lingering on the drummer, then well after a minute it moves onto the guitarist, then over for some bass and, oh, go on, some vocals too. Occasionally there’s a hint of an audience, but in my experience of the world of post-rock, bands never involve the audience like traditional rock groups do. So it could actually just be a random group of people lingering off to the side (wedding guests?), rather than fans of HDU.

Things end with a bright burst of light, then a lightbulb switches off. And, ok, that’s how an HDU video ends. Choice.

Note: Roger Shepherd listed “Schallblüte” as one of his five favourite Flying Nun videos, as part of the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s celebration of Flying Nun’s 30th anniversary.

Best bit: the Playboy bunny sticker at the bottom of the bass guitar.

Director: Nigel Bunn
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… it’s smooth time.

High Dependency Unit “El True East”

1998-hdu-el-true-eastI’d always assumed that HDU were something like a death metal band, mainly based on their name. So I’ve just had the shocking discovery that – like most bands out there – HDU are just pop. Well, pop hidden under a lot of feedback.

The video for “El True East” is at the artier end of the music video spectrum, but it works well. The video starts off shot in dark gold – fibres, leaves and a naked man crawling in gold sand. There are also flashes of old video, like a signal from another time trying to break through into the golden world.

This all jumps around as the music gets all Sonic Youth, then suddenly things calm down and the video enters a peaceful blue world. The naked crawler is now the naked swimmer, wiggling through bubbling liquid. Go to the light!

And from that blue world he emerges into a bright world. He just spends a lot of time standing upright, waving his arms around. And yeah, this is what you’d probably do if you’d just gone through a kind of rebirthing experience. Fade to white.

This video works really well. Directed by Richard Shaw and Sally MacDonald, it picks up on the tone of the song but gives the video a strong narrative that keeps it interesting, working perfectly with the music.

Best bit: man in the sand.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… man Jan.

High Dependency Unit “Lull Dark Restart”

1998-hdu-lull-dark-restartVideos like this are difficult to write about. This is not an especially commercial music video. It’s not playing by the same sort of rules that most other music videos use. If every music video sits somewhere on the continuum of art and advertising, this video is far down the art end.

“Lull Dark Restart” is mainly an instrumental track, with an ambient feeling. Most of the video is made up of micrograph footage of the workings of a watch. There’s a combination of traditional watch elements like cogs, as well as modern electronic bits.

Amid all this is occasional appearances from a guy wearing no shirt. He walks back and forth, looking meaningful, occasionally lip-synching the indistinct vocal samples.

This reminds me of the video for Cicada’s song “Winter”. Like Cicada’s video, “Lull Dark Restart” feels like it’s only meant to be a visual accompaniment to the song and isn’t fussed with selling records. And so I feel that the video isn’t really intended for me, but rather just for those who already enjoy HDU’s music.

Best bit: the gleefully implausible lip-sync.

Directors: Jason Kerr, Constantine Karlis
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… getting high on artificial grass.