Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — The consumption of music in the age of Youtube and video streaming services is highly reliant on the image that accompanies it. It is almost impossible to conjure songs in the mind’s ear without even a specter of a still or a moving sequence similar to a .gif from its promotional video popping up in the mind’s eye.
There are new forms that appear to be endemic to the Internet; think of the vivid, rotating backdrops found in the visual language of K-pop, the striking images associated with the work of Kendrick Lamar or Childish Gambino, the lyric video announcing new material, and increasing less uncommon visual album.
The music video has transcended its initial function as a supplement or extension of a single (or a slew of singles) and has turned into an expressive form in itself. This is by no means a denouncement of this new mode of circulation and consumption, but an acknowledgement of a contemporary method of listening that has turned from the purely auditory to the audiovisual.
The music video is no longer a series of illusory moving images spun alongside the music; it has become material that is woven into music itself, another sense has been reconfigured to work itself into the act the act of listening, giving the appearance that an engagement with sound, with music has become a cross disciplinary, synesthetic activity, suffused with color, movement, and texture outside of tone.
This is not a recent phenomenon; the golden age of MTV gave us some of the most memorable pieces of visual media that are impossible to separate from sound, which have almost prefigured the evolution and elevation of the form.
Some of the most resonant works have been produced by, with, and for the seminal alternative rock group, Eraserheads — film aficionados with a name referring to the darkly surreal feature-length debut of David Lynch. The band paid close attention to the visual style they chose to develop, and the following six videos encapsulate the overarching importance of their powerful, prominent singles marrying the auditory and the visual.
“Fruitcake” (Mark Gary, 1997)
The highly esteemed, celebratory “Fruitcake” finds itself complemented by vignettes of the most common of scenes drawn from the city, highlighting the profundity and grandiosity of the ordinary, using its simplicity to acquire and emphasize the simple pleasures and tragedies of everyday life.
“With a Smile” (Ely Buendia and Mark Villena, 1998)
There is a lightness hiding behind “With a Smile,” a familiar warm tone that reminds us and reassures us of better times, of the joyous company of a cherished friend, of the comfort of music sung together.
“Trip to Jerusalem” (Mark Gary, 1997)
The charm of “Trip to Jerusalem” is odd and simple at different turns, showcasing the band approaching work with a playful grin and approaching play with the seriousness of work.
“Maskara” (Ely Buendia and Marie Jamora, 2001)
“Maskara” is not one of Eraserheads’ most popular tunes, but its video is an absurdist hellscape of unsettling images, working with and against the music, exploring nightmarish backdrops, vague, indeterminate visuals, pushing and pulling against the major chords and minor scales of this hidden gem.
“Spoliarium” (Matthew Rosen, 1998)
There are puzzles and traps laid out for the audience to solve in the hazy, enigmatic sequences of images that accompany “Spoliarium,” spawning theories upon theories about what it occludes. What is to be commended, however, is its bravery; the act of piling mysteries on top of one another to address a topic mired in controversy was important in and of itself.
“Ang Huling El Bimbo” (Kanakan-Balintagos, 1996)
It would be impossible to conclude with any other entry. “Ang Huling El Bimbo” is an appropriately elegiac epic that needs no further elaboration. Here, we find the band at its most poignant and poetic, and the video expresses the heavy, haunting melancholy that hangs over one of their most prominent tracks