Fascinatingly, two recent music videos combine forest and horror imagery in songs named after reflective actions...

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Summary: Two new music videos have tapped into a mixture of symbols invoking hints of horror and isolation thrust into the forest near the edge of civilization. Just to talk about the absurdity of human life, sort of...

BLOT: (15 Sep 2013 - 10:44:52 PM)

Fascinatingly, two recent music videos combine forest and horror imagery in songs named after reflective actions...

Is Arthur Machen suddenly on the cusp of hitting mainstream consciousness? At least two videos—Sub Focus's "Turn It Around" and Arcade Fire's "Reflektor"— have tapped into a flavor really close to Machenian mystery and have done so with a strikingly similar palette of images: forests near the edge of civilization, weird (and/or supernatural) events, the traversing of dark and light, the use of framing shots with isolated structures, a sense of there and back again. To a degree, even the names of the songs are describing the same action. A brief glance at the imagery of the video (rather than the lyrical meaning). I won't go into too much details, just point out some of my favorite scenes. Watch the videos if you want to see more about them.

Sub Focus - "Turn it Around" ft. Kele

Starting with an old tunnel, a scene that is not exactly horrific in itself but has elements of a lost place that many could see as horrific, we are denied seeing the features of the "woman of the woods" for a few quick cuts before, in something of an absurdity, we get our first real glance of her face spitting over a bridge.

You can mostly ignore the fairly obvious "stranger in a strange land" imagery that happens in the city, but take a look at the shot of her standing "alone" on the street, as lightning lights up the sky (about 2:12 in) in perfect beat, and you see another dark figure standing behind her (right over her shoulder, closer to the middle of the back of the shot). And is it an object or a person standing still? I don't know.

Then, to mirror itself, it returns to a framing shot in the woods with another forgotten-place-of-man.

Arcade Fire's "Reflektor"

First off, this video gives me a very similar vibe as Broken Bells' "High Road", and I have to admit that there is a part of me that, in something of a retroactive fantasy element, looks back to living on those old dirt roads with miles between places of importance and wonders about the weird goings on in the places inbetween. In fact, the scene with the truck going down the road triggers outright deja vu: it feels so close to some of my teenage experiences with getting out of the house with friends and just going up an down a network of nowhere paths for hours.

Of course, the weird inbetweens I fantasize about tend not to involve (a) chasing disco-ball-man through a clearing or (b) dancing, and this is an important distinction.

Both videos love to use framing shots of doors/tunnels/etc with the features of the video's character's faces obscured, generally by tricks of light, or masks. Whichever comes first.

And, um, see also...

Just something to chew over. To let you see a bit of how I look at things. At this point, I would be a bit of an asshole if I didn't point you in the general direction of Ylvis' "The Fox", which is kind of playing on that same odd horror imagery and "deep" insight, though mostly ironically. Still, something about masked women dancing in unison while out in the strangely backlit woods is a little scary, right? Also hot? Is it just me?

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Written by Doug Bolden

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