When Rocks Off wants the lowest of the lowdown on good new music that isn't centered here in the Lone Star State, we always turn to Mick Cullen at Subterranean Radio. His three hour program has become a Thursday night ritual with us as he guides us through some of the most exciting indie and underground music somehow managing to thrive in this century.
We got a hankering to start re-exploring the art of the music video again, and Cullen was quick with a comprehensive list of brilliant ones. Today we tackle the first of that list, Erland and the Carnival's video for their song "Map of an Englishman."
Erland and the Carnival is the current project of Simon Tong, who you may remember from The Verve, Blur, Gorillaz and a host of other great British acts, joined by folk guitarist Erland Cooper and David Nock of The Cult. Though they've gotten a lot of notoriety for their modern arrangements of Scottish and English folk songs, it's original tracks like "Map of an Englishman" from this year's release Nightingale that truly stand out as brilliant.
To be legitimately great indie music a band must be able to balance the catchy with the unnerving, and Erland and the Carnival does that in spades. It's always a thrill to snap and hum along with a track while at the same time feeling as if you might somehow get in trouble for it. That's where the edge is, the frontier, and that's where Erland and the Carnival has built a home.
The video for "Map of an Englishman" is a terrifyingly beautiful affair directed by Marco Sandeman who has also tackled videos for Molotov Jukebox and Villagers. In the stark black and white cinematography he takes us through an anatomy lesson detailing in which organs and blood vessels exactly are centered our greed, our love, and our apathy.
True to the song's title, it's important to view the exploration not in terms of dissection, but in terms of cartography. Maps exist for the purpose of a journey or for statistical necessity. Anatomy sketches exist in order to understand what may go wrong in a human body and how to correct it.
When we're faced with the bald truth of our own composition in the video we're meant to accept the features as fact, that misery is located just below the lungs and fear just above the left eyebrow. You may avoid these areas if you wish, but they are there as securely as Buffalo Bayou runs through Houston.