Watch: 25 Favorite Videos of 2017

Watch Live Eye Tv’s 25 Favorite Videos of 2017…This year will definitely go down as one of the strangest in recent memory. As the US and Europe dealt with the political fallout of their reactionary lurch to the Right, progressively minded artists and musicians around the world rose to meet the challenge. It’s only fitting, then, that our year in videos began back in January with Jenny Hval‘s “The Great Undressing” (No. 8 on our Favorite’s List). Directed by Marie Kristiansen, and starring Marte Germaine Christensen as the video’s naked protagonist, when Hval first learned of “The Great Undressing”‘s popularity she conjectured in a blog post titled Not Safe For Capitalism that, “The selling point seems to be “see this before it’s taken down!” Going on to stress that the video represented a “casual and innocent and non-sexualised body image that existed in Scandinavia when I was growing up,” the artist lamented the way the internet’s algorithms might deem the piece Not Safe For Work. But, with that, Hval arrived at a powerful realization that would soon become our rallying cry, and the framework by which we chose our 25 Favorite Videos of 2017: ““NOT SAFE”? NOT SAFE IS HOW ART EXISTS. NOT SAFE FOR WORK IS THE WORK.”

Don’t miss the YouTube playlist above, or you can watch each of the 25 videos individually, below.

25. JOHN FRUM “Memory Palace”

JOHN FRUM‘s outstanding “Memory Palace” video was created by Christopher Konopka. The Boston-based artist uses an analog video synthesizer to create complexly textured, multi-layered imagery and his optically searing visuals are the perfect accompaniment to this band’s volcanic death metal. Konopka has an intuitive understanding of the band and seems to take the “Memory Palace” lines: “An endless expanse of the protocosmic horizon/Lay in full upon the edges of what could no longer be considered reality”, as the injunction for his hypnagogic vision. Layering video signals, while applying various keying and compositing effects, Konopka’s imagery comes on like a Salvia-induced nightmare.

24. Xiu Xiu “Jenny GoGo”

Xiu Xiu‘s Forget LP came out this past February on Polyvinyl Records, and, as usual, the videos in support of the album did not disappoint. These visuals for “Jenny GoGo” ranked as one of our favorite offerings, though it was admittedly hard to choose. Directed by Victor Belozerov, the video feature rough-hewn animations over a bed of flickering static, while faceless figures and lo-fi forms seem to cryptically depict Jamie Stewart‘s haunting lyrics. Xiu Xiu’s expert ability to empty a pop song of all its’ comfortable elements, replacing them with our collective feelings of anxiety and horror, is on full display here. Human angst has rarely sounded so terrifyingly beautiful!

23. Dead Rider “The Ideal”

If you see Dead Rider advertising for a drummer in the back of some Chicago music rag, don’t answer the call…You’ll find this on the band’s killer 2017 LP Crew Licks, out this past September on Drag City.

22. LCN “N’Ecoutez Pas Tous Les Conseils De Vos Amis”

Croatian-based producer Le Chocolat Noir‘s “N’Ecoutez Pas Tous Les Conseils De Vos Amis” video is directed by the experimental film collective BAKA Productions. Combining industrial settings and mysterious imagery, the video stars three fierce female protagonists and an angelic, sleeping girl. Seeming to enact some obscure ritual or mythic scenario, the video displays BAKA’s ability to distill dream-like imagery with filmic expertise.

21. Avalon Emerson “One More Fluorescent Rush”

Avalon Emerson returned to Nic Tasker‘s London-based label Whities with a 2-track 12″ out this past November. The video for the standout track “One More Fluorescent Rush” was directed by Hayden Martin, and it channels Emerson’s organic take on techno with gorgeous footage of flora and fauna. Employing plenty of split screen, with the occasional glimpse of the musician peering out from a dark green wall of dense foliage, the visuals here are constantly moving as images pan and bloom inside the multi-screen panoramas. This might be as close as you can get to a mushroom trip without actually ingesting psilocybin.

20. Hypox1a “Hidden Error”

LA techno producer Moe Espinosa returned under his Hypoxia moniker on his Division Of Trust 12″ out now on Make Noise Records–the in-house label for Asheville, NC-based modular synthesizer manufacturer Make Noise. The musician also teamed up with the amazing visual artist Sean Curtis Patrick on this video for “Hidden Error.” Together, the pair creates an other-worldly experience using glitched, lo-fi imagery that strobes and flickers with sonically activated noise and ghostly appearances from other dimensions.

19. Porter Ray “Past Life”

Seattle rapper Porter Ray narrates the autobiographical tale of losing his brother to gun violence on the gritty cut “Past Life,” off his excellent LP Watercolor out now on Sub Pop. Directed by LA-based photographer Patrick O’Brien-Smith, this beautifully shot video stars Porter Ray and crew. Featuring O’Brien-Smith’s eye for portraiture and storytelling thru image, this video is an intimate look at the musician and friends, and it’s dream-like sequences of a young boy on a bike echo the track’s nostalgic vibe. Like a ghost from Porter Ray’s past, or maybe a more innocent version of the rapper himself, the boy is seen skirting the edges of the group, and in warped reflection, until the video’s final moments when he’s seemingly welcomed into the collective with a handshake.

18. Lee Gamble Mnestic Pressure, Short Film

Lee Gamble joined Hyperdub Records this year with his October LP release Mnestic Pressure. Three days before the album came out, Gamble posted this short film made in collaboration with the London-based artist R. A. F. Walker. Featuring tracks off the record, the visuals incorporate some seriously glitched imagery–probably warped by the “pressures of memory.” Often abstract and dominated by mind melting jump-cuts, it’s the recognizable images that seem to punch through this hypnotic mirage. In particular, animated renderings of a city block, appearing almost bombed out or hollowed by fading memory, leave a haunting impression.

17. Visible Cloaks “Permutate Lex”

The Portland-based experimental electronic duo Visible Cloaks teamed up with their visual collaborator Brenna Murphy on this amazing 12-minute video called Permutate Lex. The short film is a companion piece to their mini-LP Lex, as well as the pair’s Reassemblage LP from earlier this year–both out now on RVNG Intl. On Lex, Ryan Carlile and Spencer Doran imagine a time when language has “dissolved into a single synthesized communication stream.” Towards that end, Doran fed various dialects and accents into language translation software to create a hybrid lexicon that sounds familiar and alien all at once. Floating over beds of incidental sound, dream-like snatches of melody, and humming ambiance, I like to imagine that these two musicians point towards a Utopian future where leisurely creative drift replaces the banalities of consumer/labor-based reality. Murphy animates this vision with her lattice-like visuals and mutating biomorphs, creating abstract worlds that hang just on the edge of recognizability, before floating out of reach.

16. Dying Fetus “Panic Amongst the Herd”

The legendary death metal band Dying Fetus returned this year with their Wrong One To Fuck With LP (Relapse Records), as well as these wickedly dark visuals for “Panic Amongst the Herd.” Directed by Mount Emult, whose video for the Pixies’ track “Blue Eyed Hexe” made it onto our 2014 Best Of list, returns with another animated tour de force. Collaging together video and still imagery with blast beat triggered edits, this is a morbid visual feast presented in eye melting overload.

15. Oiseaux-Tempête “Bab Sharqi”

Oiseaux-Tempête‘s brilliant “Bab Sharqi” video is directed by the French duo As Human Pattern (Grégoire Orio & Grégoire Couvert), and it’s a gripping, poetic journey through Lebanon. Shot in black and white, the video combines striking landscape footage and urban scenes with gritty video of the musicians in the band performing the track. Imbued with the social tensions of the region and its’ struggle for freedom, the black and white visuals might seem to paint a bleak picture, but if you watch closely a passionate human element always manages to shine through the cracks in Power.

14. Shabazz Palaces “Since C.A.Y.A.”

Seems every year Shabazz Palaces end up on our Favorite Videos list. In 2017, we find them there not once, but twice. “Since C.A.Y.A.” was directed by Stephan Gray and it features footage from Kahlil Joseph, as well as cinematography from Marcus Reposar. Shabazz Palaces’ Palaceer Lazaro stars here as some sort of righteous interplanetary visitor complete with two leashed snakes. Glitched effects add to the heady viewing as pixelated artifacts metastisize across the screen and daring jump cuts bridge vast expanses of imaginative space.

13. Jonathan Gillie “Divisions”

Divisions from Jonathan Gillie on Vimeo.

Jonathan Gillie is an amazing visual artist who has also been working in sound composition since the mid-90’s. This past October the experimental French label Tsuku Boshi released his Describing A Space LP. Gillie builds tracks in conversation with his video work using field recordings, as well as his experiments with acoustic and electronic instrumentation. On “Divisions,” the musician’s cosmic and meditative tones combine with strobing geometric images, echoing his harmonic interplay of sounds. Tattva-like shapes flicker in neon creating visual overload as the mind relaxes its’ grasp and surrenders to the barrage of color and form. Need to defrag your neurons? Jonathan Gillie’s “Divisions” will do just that!

12. The Present “Love With U”

The Present‘s “Love With U” video premiered this year via Vice’s Creators Project. Directed by Jonathan Turner, the animated black and white visuals feature a maze of slickly rendered 3-D interiors with, seemingly, no exit. The New York-based artist worked for the architects Diller + Scofidio, so it’s no accident that these rooms, corridors, atriums, etc. offer jaw dropping views filled with baroque and surreal touches. Echoing The Present’s skittering drum rolls and syncopated rhythms, the video’s continually changing viewpoint and dizzying movements thru space make for a wild ride.

11. Flying Lotus “Post Requisite”

This past November Flying Lotus dropped his single “Post Requisite,” accompanied by a psychotronic video directed by his visual collaborator Winston Hacking. Continuing on the pair’s film Kuso, “a shifting series of vignettes tangled in the aftermath of Los Angeles’s worst earthquake nightmare,” “Post Requisite” features the kind of cut-out imagery you might find in B-grade horror movies, tabloid rags, and old nudie mags. Hacking animates this bizarre collection of clip art into a surreal feast of bleeding brains and marauding maggots–with plenty of humping deviants thrown in for good measure. Post “The Big One,” more than anything, this is “Post Requisite.”

10. METZ “Drained Lake”

METZ make quite the racket on “Drained Lake” off the band’s 2017 LP Strange Peace (Sub Pop). The video for the track was directed by Shayne Ehman, and it features a number of memorable animated scenes. Right off the bat, this domestic nightmare finds clocks spinning out of control as forks collect into orchestras and rolling dust bunnies dissolve into singing faces. Think that’s weird, just wait until the lady of the house transforms herself into a black cat with big, nasty fangs.

9. Dustin Wong & Takako Minekawa “Elastic Astral Peel”

Through the years, animator Milton Croissant always seems to end up on our Favorite Videos‘ list. Here he teams up with the musicians Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa providing some seriously psychedelic visuals for their track “Elastic Astral Peel,” off the duo’s 2017 LP Are Euphoria (Thrill Jockey). Wong and Minekawa craft seriously warped dream pop that melts like ear candy and Croissant follows suit with splashing and roiling pools of neon colored jelly. Pulsating to the track’s strangely propulsive beat, this colorful liquid world undergoes all kinds of transformations before Wong and Minekawa’s singing faces emerge from the bubbling protoplasm.

8. Jenny Hval “The Great Undressing”

We kicked off 2017 with Jenny Hval‘s video for “The Great Undressing” off her 2016 LP Blood Bitch (Sacred Bones). Directed by Marie Kristiansen, and starring Marte Germaine Christensen, the video will remind you of that nightmare where you find yourself naked in public. Ignoring the performative ritual of “getting dressed”, the visuals follow Christensen as she carries on her daily activities in the nude. Whether an act of protest or an attempt to appear in her most authentic form, our heroine seems to go about town invisibly, while the clothed world carries on around her without notice. Following the complex thematics of Hval’s Blood Bitch, these visuals explore issues around female identity and human intimacy in challenging and thought-provoking ways. Conjecturing that the video’s internet popularity might have been propelled by the film’s use of nudity, and its’ perceived Not Safe For Work qualities, Hval had this ever so poignant reminder: ““NOT SAFE”? NOT SAFE IS HOW ART EXISTS. NOT SAFE FOR WORK IS THE WORK.”

7. Blanck Mass “Please”

This past March Blanck Mass released his World Eater LP (Sacred Bones) and it featured an epic animated video for the track “Please.” The 3-D rendered video was directed by Michael Tan, and in discussing it, he explained:

“Blanck Mass (Ben) and I looked at old CGI ’80s movies like Lawnmower Man and 3D animated internet memes, which are far different from my polished, hyper-real 3D renderings I usually create. Drawing from these inspirations, the result is a bit of a mix between Lo-Fi and a role-playing adventure game. With the current political climate, it’s hard not to be concerned about the future of the planet and the population as a whole. There seems to be no genuine concern from governments about the state of the earth, climate change, or the future. The video personifies this concern within its characters.”

6. Shabazz Palaces “Welcome To Quazarz”

Shabazz Palaces dropped their joint LPs Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines this past July via Sub Pop. “Welcome To Quazarz” was directed by the amazing artist Nep Sidhu, who often works in the mediums of painting, sculpture and textile. It also features animations from Alex McLoed, glitchy analog optics by Michael Reynolds, as well as supplemental footage from Tiona Nekkia McClodden‘s Sweet Atlanta Black Simulacrum film. These various streams of media are collaged into a head spinning array, and combined with the use of split-screens and animating text, “Welcome To Quarzarz” will scramble your normal viewing parameters while recaliberating your visual aparatus.

5. Moon Duo “Cold Fear”

Moon Duo‘s “Cold Fear” video premiered this past January on Adult Swim. Billed as “cold fear for cold times,” the visuals feature animations from illustrator/musician Micah Buzan. Starring Moon Duo’s ying/yang pair Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada, the video finds our heroes traveling through a chaotic cityscape that resembles Blade Runner’s urban nightmare, before they end up trapped at a banquet table of carnivorous monsters. Things don’t look too good for our Duo, and with this video “To Be Continued,” you’ll definitely want to check out the follow-up, “Lost in Light.”

4. Father John Misty Pure Comedy

Father John Misty records his next masterpiece while Los Angeles burns in his short film, Pure Comedy. Director Grant James (“Funtimes in Babylon,” “I Love You, Honeybear”) rejoins FJM’s Josh Tillman for this twenty-five minute behind the scenes peak into the making of Tillman’s 2xLP of the same name (Sub Pop.) A surreal dream logic prevails here as we watch Tillman, and a host of other musicians and engineers, go about recording FJM’s record. Jump cuts and animated sequences continually interrupt the film’s expected flow as the narrative moves between scenes of Tillman in studio, at home, and driving thru LA as the city catches fire all around him.

3. Fake Palms “Holograms”

Fake Palms stunning visual treatment for the track “Holograms” was created by the Toronto-based artist Jared Sales, who began his career in the late 90’s performing music under the moniker My Friend The Killer Robot, before getting into stand-up comedy. Since that time, he has created the production house Mind Control Media. For the “Holograms” video, he animates 3-D humanoid models. His creatures are at once recognizable and alien, and we follow them as they walk and tumble thru constantly shifting environments of hyper-real space and abstractly generated fields of color and light. Psychedelic in its effect, the video pairs well with the bands’ vertigo-inducing psych-pop.

2. Nightmares on Wax “Back To Nature”

Nightmares on Wax released the epic track “Back To Nature” this past September, and, at the time, George Evelyn explained that the cut was, “…a reminder of our relationship to nature, something amazing that we are all a part of.” The video for the track was directed by João Pombeiro, and it features animated sequences created from magazine, postcard, and vintage film cut-ups. This colorful and graphic array of 2-D source material is then arranged in 3-D space to create teaming landscapes that echo the track’s atavistic urges. Traveling from our ancient origins thru time, we see humankind’s’ connection to nature slowly eclipsed and replaced by the destructive forces of industry and commerce. Coupled with the shaman’s message that humans, earth, and Spirit are One, “Back To Nature” is a potent reminder of our essential Unity and that humans are merely the stewards of the Earth’s bounty.

1. Algiers “The Underside of Power”

Algiers‘ 2017 LP The Underside of Power, out now on Matador, was recorded under the shadow of last year’s presidential election, as well as news of Brexit. As such, it was a potent rallying cry from the front-lines of our emerging culture wars. The video for “The Underside of Power” was directed and edited by Henry Busby and Marcus Tortorici, and it definitely reflects the frightening aftermath of our election and Europe’s drift towards the Right. From an undisclosed bunker, we watch as the band and their compatriots plot their strategies of anti-Fascist resistance. Coupled with archival footage from the Civil Rights movement, and singer/guitarist’s Franklin Fisher’s impassioned delivery, the video is a rousing testament to the powers of the collective when directed towards the Life and Liberty of All.

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