“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.
Cicada’s third video is again directed by Paul Swadel, and continues with strong visuals and minimal involvement with the band.
A man wakes up. He is covered in tattoos. It’s not moko or like that dude in the Lady Gaga video. Rather it looks like he’s just had a bunch of stuff tattooed over the years.
As he slowly stretches, we catch glimpses of the band sneaking around behind him, crawling up the walls. Tattoo man gets dressed, putting on a business suit and tie. Whoa, he’s a businessman. Have your preconceived notions just been shattered?
We discover the band are lurking on tattoo man’s ceiling. Are they vampires, hiding ready to strike? Or are they his good morning wake-up band, bringing some motivational music? There’s probably an iPhone app that could take the place of a morning ceiling band.
Best bit: the tattoo man’s eyeball acting, with many dramatic sideways glances.
There are some very strange goings-on happening in some public toilets. Shot at the very photogenic loos at Hotel DeBrett, a man at the urinal turns to face the camera. He starts singing but his mouth appears to be a superimposed other mouth. It’s a bit like that weird Eskimo cartoon in Pulp Fiction with the real mouth on a cartoon, only in this video it’s all human.
If there’s another Tarantino influence it’s in the toilet setting. Like in “Reservoir Dogs”, a woman puts her hands under a hand dryer and dries them in a very slow, deliberate way.
Again directed by Paul Swadel, the video is mostly black and white, with dramatic lighting. The video is a lot more sedate than the more upbeat song, with lots of long, still shots. But the video captures the song’s tension. In this strange world inside a public toilet, with all the lingering glances, something is going to kick off.
There are 17 videos missing from 1993, including two Hamilton bogan rock classics, early work from guys who’d go on to more success in Stellar and Splitter, and the return of Kiwi rock legend Larry Morris. Continue reading Missing videos from 1993