This new column is the brainchild of Music Editor Emeritus Jessica Cassyle Carr. It’s like Sonic Reducer for music videos. Carr will be contributing A/V Reducer columns in the future, but I just couldn’t wait to give it a whirl. Enjoy the spectacle.
Shot on 8 mm by Jesús Vásquez in a forest near Tecate, Baja California, this entry doesn't disappoint. Equal parts The Craft and lo-fi art house slasher flick, the new Dani Shivers video isn’t groundbreaking, but it ably provides a visual soundtrack for Tijuana up-and-comer Shivers' throbby, scarlet pop single, “Up!” A salt pentagram, a tarot deck, candles and a goblet satisfy your not-so-secret witch fetish. Ropes and blood appear late in the game, and it leaves you wanting more of la diosa oscura.
Maximal synth duo BRANES makes a lot out of a little in their first music video. “Microwave On,” one of the best tracks on the debut, gets the A/V treatment in an LED-doused, glitchy VHS homage. Comely front woman Ivy proves both arm-dancing and the Louise Brooks' bob are still in vogue. Mutant punk fellow Subtract portrays a TV baby and lets loose with some jerky moves. The whole thing's bathed in kaleidoscopic imperfection and intentional pixelization. Video compression in the multiverse becomes, in itself, art.
Monterrey enchantress Selma Oxor sings in Spanish, so I begged my fluent sister-in-law to translate for me. This tune is about talents in the kitchen. One of my favorite lines—“Tomo tu cabeza en mis manos / Cuidadosamente, hago la incision”—translates to “I take your head in my hands and carefully make the incision.” Whether she refers to a prawn or a prince isn't clarified by the video, which finds Oxor browsing the mercado and making culinary magic. This cauldron of taut visuals features candles, knives, semi-animated seafood, a single rose petal and lipsticked digits.
An old-school, silent movie title page introduces Ellen Frances’ black-and-white short film for Black Marble's “Cruel Summer.” The simple and elegant video is set in a little girl's bedroom, with wispy smoke and poltergeist-like dresser drawer activity. Extraterrestrial visitors and her deceased mother visit our protagonist and play marbles. After rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she salutes a portrait of her mother. The walls are laden with stars, and it’s a charming accompaniment to the synthy, gloomy goodness of the song.
Lensed in Los Angeles, Niko Sonnberger’s video evokes apocalyptic and occult visions. The skeletons of Joshua trees litter the landscape and costuming choices call to mind Zola Jesus’ Conatus album art and paramilitary goth style. Glittery dust permeates the dark corners. Closeups of leading lady Lynette Cerezo’s gap teeth and sparkly lips are interspersed with meditative spoon-bending and the guys digging in the desert. Blood, oil, milk, poison and gauzy togetherness all make appearances.
Gritty, poppy post-punk girl group PINS hail from Manchester. Cotton-candy pink, mint green and Tiffany blue smoke bombs light up a stark quarry canyon. Tight shots of peroxide and pastel hair colors and Dr. Martens’ eight-eyes, a glimmering lake and geometric insets whispering soft-hued contrast make up the sleek visible world of “LUVU4LYF.” Crashing slate, firework sparks, headbanging and lizard-skin stomps synch up with the percussive elements of this track.