Unknown Mortal Orchestra Debunks Stranger Danger

We want to move to Oregon, because apparently when you're weird in Oregon they give you money and tell you to go make a music video. Somewhere between the laziest music videos of all time and the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" comes "Strangers are Strange" by Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

The video, shot in a '70s hue that makes you think you're standing outside under an impossibly hot and polluted sky, is a masterpiece of simplicity. Essentially, it is little more than continuous shots of an obviously shady deal being observed by fairly inept spies.

It's all bad suits and facial hair gone wild continuously breaking into increasingly numerous split screens, almost as if a methed up Brian De Palma was behind the camera rather than the director Sam Kristofski.

Unlike "Sabotage," very little happens, just a long stream of awkward reconnaissance. However, that in itself really brings the message of the tune home. We're going to go out on a limb here and declare the project to be a far-reaching commentary on the nature of xenophobia and paranoia between nations.

Though we all picture James Bond when we think of international intrigue, real-life intelligence gathering is much more likely to be a long, boring sequence of mistruths and harmless activities blown out of proportion.

We're not even sure that our "enemies" are doing anything more sinister than exchanging a briefcase containing a bunch of pornography. Yet it's played up as if marking the activity is of significant importance to the security of the glorious state.

Sorry, but no one dressed like that is a threat to anyone but their own odds of non-pity-based sexual intercourse.

Maybe we're reaching too far into a simple music video, but we really did feel like we were seeing the artistic representation of a world in which everyone is watching each other for no damned reason that we can think of. The whole "stranger danger" thing was driven deep into our heads in childhood, and it's a hard program to delete.

Looking askance at the doings of strangers and assuming malice becomes a way of life, and an important lesson to unlearn. Unknown Mortal Orchestra expertly makes you realize just how stupid that is in less than three minutes of horrible outfits and sweet melodies. Check it out below.

We shot off an email to Unknow Mortal Orchestra's Ruban Nielsen to ask him a few questions about the video. Click on over to page 2 for the interview.


Rocks Off: We hate to be that guy, but what's in the briefcase that is so important it requires spies to track it?

Ruban Nielsen: It's the name of the pre-determined winner of this year's election. Those spooks are getting the message on who Lockheed Martin and the Federal Reserve decided who it was going to be to the man.

RO: Essentially, the video is made up of one specific scene that replays over and over again from different angles, like some kind of fractured present. What made you want to make something traditionally action-packed (Spy drama) into something fairly static?

RN: Actually the original idea was girls dressed in next to nothing riding around on roller skates, but the director thought the footage was too dodgy and put this one together instead. I think it was a pretty sweet resolution to Rollergate.

RO: Would you say that our fear of strangers is at all justified?

RN: Are you trying to say I'm freaking you out a little bit?

RO: Is this how the song looked in your head when you wrote the song?

RN: Not really. I'm not sure if I did that visualization at all. Just wondering what happened to that Rollergate footage though.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra plays Tuesday March 13, at Fitzgerald's with Girls, Fanfarlo, and Young Man.

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