Friday, April 27, 2007

Video: Bjork "Earth Intruders"

While new material from Bjork has remained big news in some circles there has been more buzz about "Earth Intruders" than anything else she has released in years. This has everything to do with finally reaching outside of her most devoted fan base that has followed her to the ends of the Earth (or were at least willing to brave incidental music and all vocal experiments) as she collaborated with Timbaland to create something accessible. Despite Timbaland's recent streak of hit singles "Earth Intruders" is still more Bjork than Tim as the stompy song recalls the fierce off-kilter pop of her Post era than Nelly Furtado or Justin Timberlake.
The video, which is being kept off of youtube by her record company apparently, brings to mind the dark world of the "Human Behavior" video. The visual layering effect echoes the inner workings of the earth as the tribal shadows in the foreground echo the conflict in Iraq:

: Look for Bjork on tour, which starts in surprisingly large venues in the US, this May and stop by her myspace to hear more from Volta.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Keep On Surviving

Nine Inch Nail's new album Year: Zero is out this week and even apart from the music the viral marketing campaign for the album is amazing. The mix of online puzzle, apocalyptical Dungeons & Dragons game and twisted Rock The Vote PSA is unprecedented and the depth of it all is surprising. It started with a series of interconnected websites referenced indirectly on the shirts sold on NIN's last tour and the air of mystery continued as flash drives containing leaked album tracks and videos started appearing in venues the band were playing. The release of the album brings more clues with a phone number placed in the usual RIAA warning spot to call in subversives and the thermal design on the cd reveals a hidden message after it has been played.
A couple of days ago the game intersected with reality as a group of fans were given cell phones that led them to a "secret meeting" with the resistance group featured in the album's backstory. Here's one fan's account from a fan site:

We pulled up to an abandoned warehouse; there were random people standing on the roof and around the entrance. We were led inside; there were more people inside, and AIR flags hanging from the roof... Neil Czarno (or whoever is playing him) gave a talk about how we should give a and change the world. I was rather cynical about his talk at first, but he redeemed himself by noting that we shouldn't just blindly accept what he was saying and that we should change the world in small ways. He also told us that we were stupid for allowing them to herd us like cattle onto a bus to who knows where with no form of communication (and for carrying around cellphones like tracking devices) and that we'd be dead if they were really after us. After his talk, we were led over the river and through the woods (the warehouse complex was rather large). We were stopped briefly before we entered a room with many lights and lots of equipment.

: Where NIN played a show that was "stopped" by a SWAT team, not unlike the one in the "Survivalism" video, when they "raided" the venue. You can see footage of the secret meeting/gig on youtube (the raid is in the last minute of this clip) or see the whole thing in full at one of the NIN backstory/political activist sites. Stream Year: Zero at NIN's myspace.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sooner Or Later It Happens To Everyone

Pet Shop Boys: A Life in Pop escaped my netflix queue to arrive at my home this week. The documentary aims to be the definitive biography of the duo taking us from an overview of the band's early history and philosophy to an exploration of each of their albums. The focus is sharpest on the band's early and Imperial periods but the DVD has a broad enough range to give consideration to a number of the band's b-sides which helps bring out the depth of the Boys songwriting abilities. The pool of commentators runs the gamut from long time collaborators like the third Pet Shop Boy Pete Gleadall (credited with programming 95% of PSB releases since 1991) to celebrity fans like Brandon Flowers and internet deconstructionists like Geo Wayne so there is a good balance of distanced observations and personal insights with the band. It says quite a bit that my biggest complaints about the doc is that it shortchanges Bilingual and that the amount of time spent on their Dusty Springfield collaborations exaggerates their importance.

The segment on the Boys fall from US chart success features former kroq DJ Richard Blade relating a time in the early 90s when the station's program director played "Blue Monday" in a meeting as an example of a record the station would never play again. This brought back in a very real way my frustration at the time with "alternative" radio, which despite the alternative tag find most stations copying kroq's playlist, that dropped anything with a synthesizer as grunge brought in new listeners to the format forcing a displacement of artists that I love. It's things like that helped me learn to hate rock and roll.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Video: Client "Drive"

Client’s Heartland is still a week away from it’s release and the album’s third single “Drive” is here hitting the retro-new wave electro mark squarely. Using night driving as self medication to “feel alive” the song suggests the band may have been spending some time with former collaborator Pete Doherty as the lyrics go from “I can’t resist you “ to “white lines on a motorway” within seconds. Fortunately the band has found the right mix of synths, live drums and bass to propel one of their most strongly written songs while setting a mood that is just right.
Performing in front a massive video screen projecting somewhat abstract white on black driving visuals the video fits the band‘s style and adds a bit of Kraftwerk-ian flair. This is a huge improvement over their last video, and it’s great to see the band back on track:

: Client are touring Europe and North America shortly so click through to one of their two myspaces for more info and preview tracks from Heartland while you are there.