Music Video

Massive Attack music videos never fail me – always emotive, always provoking, always a little bit of violence, and always expressing the music in fascinating ways. This offering from Edouard Salier is no exception. Through the frozen midst of a godzilla-esque attack on a metropolitan area, every surface, every person, vehicle and building is fractured mirrored glass, the only natural or organic surface appearing to be the form of the giant attacking bunny – an image less comical than it is reminiscent somehow of the bloody starkness seen in the animated rendition of ‘Watership Down. Five views in, I’m no closer to full understanding the visuals, but it is mesmerizing in its terrible beauty. Thoughts?

Directed by Edouard Salier


Jon Hopkins 'Collider' by Tom Haines

Second in the series of videos for the music of Jon Hopkins is Collide, directed by Tom Haines. Frighteningly aggressive and fitful, the main character forms a disturbing mockery of sexualized dance. Appearing to relive a rave night gone wrong in an abandoned factory, she spasms and contorts in motions resembling the ballet ‘The Rite of Spring’ by Stravinsky, a renowned classical piece in which a young woman dances herself to death. There’s a compulsion here too, she appears to be a prisoner to death, to drink, to fuck, to dance. Is she escaping? Or is she trapped?

It’s a powerful film, seeming to draw influences from Gaspar Noé and Fincher. The song is described by Hopkins as ‘the end of the world’, it’s easy to see apocalyptic tones, the girl, a frantic Nero, dancing in that ruined industrial complex as the world burns.

Director: Tom Haines


This week I’m presenting two videos featuring music by Jon Hopkins, one of my favourite electronic music producers.

First up is Open Eye Signal, directed by Aoife McArdle. Before even seeing the video, I was a big fan of the song as it brought to mind a vibe similar to Hold Tight London by The Chemical Brothers; combining a rolling beat, hope and movement. The video cleverly incorporates freedom in a total sense, that of running away from the past; negative, and towards the future; the hopeful. There isn’t one without the other, it tells us.

The boy, bruised, bitter and fleeing from an unnamed threat, moves through contrasting sweeps of open landscapes and closed suburbia, differing climates and varying degrees of wealth. The expert use of  focal depth and color tone (signature features of McArdle’s work) highlights and obscures aspects of the journey he takes. Bruises heal, peace rises, the playfulness and joy in him develops, fears lessen; all to the melodic and meditative pulse.

Directed by Aoife McArdle

Released: 2013



Nigel Stanford’s latest track, filmed by Shahir Daud, is an astounding experiment in sound and music, a process named ‘cymatics’, using speakers and amplifiers to generate a visual representation of sound. Water, grains of salt and even fire-jets twist and distort to the varying air-pressures.

Daud chose to film this in industrial tones of grey and black, using stripped construction concrete and sharp fluorescent lighting  as the backdrop. Standford’s presence is duplicated in similar tones, anonymous behind his instruments, combining himself with them as fused mechanisms of music, science and biology.

The message is powerful: music, even in group settings, is seen as relativistic experience, yet by showing us the effect of the same expression on physical objects rather than humans, and sinking the creator himself into the background, we see the natural world isolated, emphasized and rediscovered as the arbiter of human experience. We have sent out probes into the universe as carriers of music and frequency to express human kind to the heavens and Stanford and Daud show a simulacrum of this in a combinatorial depiction of the mechanistic, the electronic and the elemental.

Directed by: Shahir Daud

Released: 2014



She may contain the urge to run away
But hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocks
Germolene, disinfect the scene
My love, my love, love, love
But please don’t go, I love you so, my lovely

It’s hard to watch Breezeblocks, music video to Alt-J’s dark melody and not think in stylistic terms of Nolan’s Memento, or even Noe’s Irreversible, a disturbing gradually unfolding hostage story that leaves us doubting who exactly is originator of the crimes.

A tale of domestic violence, possession and obsessive affection, Bahl makes strong use of macro shots, bleak tones and common household themes. Whereas Wolfe’s Take Me To Church uses suburban normality as a contrast to the underlying violence, this film uses the metropolitan apartment, the place next door to add tension and immediacy, with hip, trendy characters and fashionable minimalist decor. The finished product is one that leaves the viewer uneasy for a long time afterwards. A deserving winner of the UK Music Video Award for “Best Alternative Video” in 2012.



Directed by: Ellis Bahl

Released: 2012



More music videos, and here we have Time to Dance by The Shoes, starring the wonderfully strange eyes of Jake Gyllenhaal.


What does it say about this critic when the most disturbing part of this film to me was where our killer attempts to dance, and not the preceding murders. Another great piece by Daniel Wolfe and fantastic acting by Mr Gyllenhaal – one of his finest moments yet, in my opinion.



Directed by: Daniel Wolfe

Released: 2012


Continuing the series of music videos on TSS, a politically expressive film for Irish musician Hozier.

Canty and Thompson artfully use the ‘locked box’ to symbolize both repressed love, secrets and the sacrifices required to maintain the simplest of  human rights in an environment of bigotry. Following the tragic paths and eventual punishment of two young men, we are left wondering as to the ultimate fate of both them and also the family that may have been ill-prepared to cope with such an opposition to cultural norms, yet suffer anyway for the ingrained societal ignorance they passively ignored.


My church offers no absolution
She tells me, ‘Worship in the bedroom’
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you

I was born sick,
But I love it
Command me to be well
Amen. Amen. Amen


I love the bold use of black and white in capturing both roaring fire and rolling countryside, leveling our views of sub-urbanity and the insidious, compressed violence it contains. Carefully woven in shots of birds and planes show achingly tantalizing shots of freedom for our protagonists, and I defy anyone not to feel a lurching heart at the morally indecisive imagery of the final scene. Courageous work from talented directors and an inspiring musician.

Great write-up of the piece is also here from Mother Jones.


Lyrics link



Directed by: Brendan Canty and Conal Thomson (link)

Released: 2013


What are we seeing here? I’ve scoured the reviews of Daniel Wolfe’s evocative music video of Paolo Nutini’s Iron Sky and most explain it as repression incarnate, and consequent freedom, an ambiguous statement of freedom against non-specific enemies.

From which we’ll rise over love,
Over hate,
From this iron sky,
That’s fast becoming our minds.
Over fear and into freedom.

Clinically cold poverty in faded pastel hues and images of intense drug dependency serve to show a tightening grip of desperation and pressure experienced in the modern metropolitan landscape. I’m reminded of the prison of the mind, shown in a similar palette of Marshall’s Awakenings. Blood trickles from an alabaster white face, a crucifix necklace draws against a taut neck, a motorized boat carries far-looking passengers. I don’t think this film is expecting definition in the same way the CTA Blue Line ever stops running – it shows life as motion and suffering as normal. Beautiful work.


Directed by: Daniel Wolfe


A delightfully whimsical excerpt edited from the 1928 film ‘A Mysterious Lady’, overlaid with a cover of The Pixies song ‘Where Is My Mind’, in the form a delicate piano piece played by Maxence Cyrin. A mash-up of a film, with a soundtrack made from the cover of a song. Oh the world today.