Goth, industrial, metal: These genres lend themselves well to the Halloween season. In the 90s, when pop culture had a short-lived love affair with artists of these genres (and that abominable hybrid, Rapcore) the videos for chart-toppers frequently went for imagery that borrowed from horror and avant-garde artists. It was more campy than edgy, which is something that metal has never had an issue with, but pop music has for the most part gotten pretty squeaky clean. Throw just a little slick sacrilege or—again—full on campy destruction into a video and you’ll be hailed as avant garde for a time (ahem, Lady Gaga), but only because the majority of music videos are, like Hollywood, a sort of bourgeois, aspirational pornography.
Throughout the month, we’ll highlight music videos that tread into darker territory, sometimes unexpectedly. Perhaps needless to say…assume that they are all NSFW.
Little Dragon – “Klapp Klapp,” directed by Nabil
Gothenburg, Sweden is a hotbed of moody electronica, but its most famous acts (a couple of which make this list) show a broad range of influences. In the case of Little Dragon, many tracks sound more like R&B with an infusion of electronica rather than the other way around. But the frenetic track “Klapp Klapp” is definitely somewhere more directly in the middle. The video for it captures the desperation, determination and self-annihilation of the lyrics but goes in a completely unexpected, cinematic direction with it. Ecstatic black magic, a tower in a wasteland, grave robbery? It is all weirdly perfect, and just the first half of the story (which continues and ends with the sultry track “Pretty Girls,” involving a sinister beauty pageant, kidnapping and warlords…and zombies). Director Nabil is known for slick, unique work (“Two Weeks” by FKA twigs is a favorite) and his two videos for Little Dragon amount to a short film, perfect for the Halloween season.
Flying Lotus – “Ready Err Not,” directed by David Firth
Electronic artist Flying Lotus is known for music that feels a little feral beneath its minimal, twitchy surface. David Firth is known for making animations (the Saladfingers series, especially) that are eerie and violent in a subdued, slow burn sort of way. (Literally. In one episode the titular character unwittingly locks a child in an oven to slow cook.) Put the two together and you get a video that peels back the twitching skin of Flying Lotus’ track “Ready Err Not” to reveal something slippery with gore. Deformity, splatter and transformation a la The Thing (1982) make this one a bit squeamish to look at, but the addition of wet, licking sounds adds to the ick factor. Enjoy!
CHRISTEENE – “Big Shot,” directed by PJ Raval
CHRISTEENE is a character built on the uncanny, dysphoria and the insatiable id, so quite a few videos from her could make a Halloween playlist. “Big Shot” is by far the most unsettling, starting from frame one. There’s a lot happening here, and by the end one gets the impression that it might all just be a virtual reality fantasy of CHRISTEENE, suspended in a nest of cables. That fantasy includes: eerily doting daddies (trigger warning); orgiastic, anthropomorphic stuffed animals; and a rave-like performance outside the warm confines of the. It’s a chaotic concept that could have been done disastrously, but director PJ Raval makes it mesmerizing with excellent camerawork, lighting, sets, costumes and, most importantly, editing.
CHRISTEENE performs tonight, October 9, 2015 at Chop Suey.