Phoenix and Los Angeles-based art rockers KNESSET aren’t coming to San Diego anytime soon, but that certainly doesn’t preclude them from sending us a detailed and most excellent list of great music videos.
KNESSET are kindred spirits with bands like American Analog Set, Camera Obscura, Owen, and Joan of Arc, with whom they share a label in Japan. Songs like “Bitter Hearts” (video above) from KNESSET’s debut LP, Coming of Age, feel just right in a musical rotation that includes the aforementioned company.
The band released Coming of Age in February, and you can buy it now for as little as five bucks on their Bandcamp page. Do check it out — and while you listen, peruse their Poetic Memory (below). It’ll be worth your while.
KNESSET’s Top 10 Favorite Music Videos
“It is the artistic medium of music video that [at first] has most heavily catalyzed our individual pursuits in musical creation. There are three primary elements of a music video that really strike me, and when harmoniously fused, they leave me incessantly replaying. The first is the location: middle of nowhere or middle of the house, “location, location, location.” Second is the lighting: take a shot on your phone or DSLR; it’s the lighting that propels the subject and frame. Third and last is the concept: be it live performance-based or plot-driven, there is no video without a good concept. I will highlight these three elements in a list of my top-ten favorite music videos. I’m sure that I missed some beauties, but these were the most outstanding from memory. – Jeff Olsen
10. “New Noise” by Refused
A. Location – I don’t know what it is about that warehouse/boxing arena-looking stage they are playing on, but since watching this video, they play on that stage in my head every time I listen to The Shape of Punk to Come.
B. Lighting – It is a serious ambition of mine to have a light show like this supporting a KNESSET performance one day.
C. Concept – I’m not completely thrilled with plot driven music videos, and I’m not sure exactly what the masked bandits are accomplishing, but the live performance cuts and overall cinematography has branded those visuals into my dome for every forthcoming listen from this record.
9. “Me and Mary” by Asobi Seksu
A. Location – Clean and simple white backdrop.
B. Lighting – This video actually barely touches on lighting experimentation, but makes up with a great monochromatic palette.
C. Concept – This to me is “lo-fi” done so classy and well. The animation was hand-drawn frame-by-frame and i love the contrast of frame rates.
8. “Two Weeks” by Grizzly Bear
A. Location – All four geniuses seated, perfectly exposed on backlit stained glass, and judging by their Sunday garb, implied church/cathedral location.
B. Lighting – If you haven’t seen this video yet I won’t spoil it…unbelievably innovative and gets better as the video progresses.
C. Concept – Again, I won’t spoil it, but I would love to know how Patrick Daughters conceived all that glowing and swelling.
7. “Who Is It” by Björk
A. Location – Do these landscapes drop your jaw or do they not?
B. Lighting – SOLAR FLARES!
C. Concept – This could quite possibly be Björk’s most straight-forward video in a great way. Bonus points: With the exception of a single track on Medúlla, the entire record is composed of vocal instruments, including this one. The hand and church bells were added to the video only. Brilliance!
6. “Tonto” by Battles
A. Location – This is an all-nighter on the lunar surface.
B. Lighting – United Visual Artists could not have done a cooler lighting job on this video. This is truly unique, and the end is yet another lighting surprise.
C. Concept – Location, lighting, and great cuts executed perfectly.
5. “Glósóli” by Sigur Rós
A. Location – It’s difficult to comprehend that places on Earth this beautiful actually exist. How did video equipment, crew, and 20 children make that trek?
B. Lighting – The most world-ending, melancholy-feeling natural lighting perfectly expresses the song’s tone.
C. Concept – This music video is exclusively plot based, and I could not imagine improvement along the entire 6.5 minute journey.
4. “Heaven” by U.N.K.L.E.
A. Location – Disposable skatepark.
B. Lighting – Explosions better than the combined “Die Hard” saga.
C. Concept – Lakai’s “Fully Flared” was probably the most anticipated skateboarding film in the history of the sport. The music video is a re-cut version of the film’s introduction directed by Spike Jonze. Even Dylan Rieder’s short for “Gravis” can’t touch this (very close, though).
3. “Single Ladies” by Beyonce
A. Location – Have you ever seen a 360-degree white backdrop? Clean and, well, not so simple.
B. Lighting – This was done by scientists. The music synchronization is perfect.
C. Concept – I am not a dancer or a Beyonce fan, but Kanye West’s outspoken words upon Taylor Swift’s VMA victory were completely valid. Is it possible to dance harder than this?
2. “Peacebone” by Animal Collective
A. Location – More important than location is the selection of fantastic cuts of imagery employed throughout this music video. I was introduced to this video as a fan of Timothy Saccenti’s photography and had no idea that he directed music videos. It’s like a moving photo portfolio.
B. Lighting – It’s all in the details here. Every single frame of this video is a beautiful photograph; you have to watch it over and over.
C. Concept – What an undertaking it must be to bring an Animal Collective song to visual life. Mr. Saccenti, you nailed it.
1. “Little Bit” by Lykke Li
A. Location – Is this a real living space? I want an address and lease.
B. Lighting – It does not get any better than this for me as far as simplicity is concerned. Shoot right into the light source and bring on the warm colors; you know the way to my heart.
C. Concept – Simple, elegant, attention-clenching, and makes you move. Those glitchy cuts are spot on and so tasteful. Do Beyonce’s backup dancers or soccer shorts guy dance harder?