Music videos and video songs

Culture advances by composting the layer just below it. That which seemed rare and rich yesterday becomes the steaming rot for tomorrow’s sprouts. Kutiman is an Israeli musician who had the brilliant idea of using various “found” YouTube videos as the raw material for his own compositions. He’s sequencing and channeling dozens of people. I wrote about him once before. I still go back and listen to the Mother of All Funk Chords every now and then… it’s one of my favorite things on the web. More recently I came across this new Kutiman release, My Favorite Color.

It’s wonderful to think of these people collaborating in absentia through Kutiman’s deft touch. There’s something transparent and guileless about the resulting music. It made me think of Pomplamoose, a duo that Greg turned me on to. Their specialty is something they call a “video song,” a sort of intentional version of Kutiman’s mixes. In a video song, you see the anatomy of the song laid bare. As band member Jack Conte puts it (this is from the Wikipedia article)

  1. What you see is what you hear. (No lip-syncing for instruments or voice)
  2. If you hear it, at some point you see it. (No hidden sounds)

Slick MTV-style music videos are, of course, altogether different. They superimpose a highly-produced video stream on a highly-produced audio stream, although these two bear almost no relation to each other. Where music videos obfuscate with sound and fury, video songs reveal the essential whatness of the music. It’s another example of technology reclaiming the human aspect that was lost in an earlier, poorer use of technology. As Aristotle might remind us, don’t put the spectacle before the action. Pomplamoose is all about the action. When you think to yourself “By god, it sounds like he’s playing a toy piano,” you soon will see that by god he is.

Here, toy piano and all, is Pomplamoose covering Michael Jackson’s Beat It.

3 thoughts on “Music videos and video songs”

  1. Wow, Ned, very sync! I found Pomplamouse via their Hyundai Christmas commercials (Margaret thought they sounded like [were] The Bird and The Bee); the Onken kids like “Telephone” and “Single Ladies.”

  2. The best part of “Single Ladies” is near the end when she sings “Don’t make me sing this part of the song, the lyrics are so bad. So we’re going to skip ahead To the ‘Single Ladies’ part.”

  3. I recorded the audio of “The Mother of All Funk Chords” after your original post, and put it on my workout playlist on my iPod. I highly recommend it for the treadmill.

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