Magic Trick: A Goldfish Named Lazarus

Tim Cohen is a man who wears many hats. He's been in more bands and released music under more names than any other musician I can think of, and each one is an exercise in brilliance. His latest mask is Magic Trick, and I got the opportunity to look at the music video for "Invisible at Midnight." Here the San Francisco genius may have finally outdone himself.

Right off the bat we see a young, angelic girl child played by Lida Rose. She's a happy, cherubic little thing that smiles with innocent brightness as she overfeeds her goldfish in a cartoonish bedroom. Of course, as we all know overfeeding a goldfish is pretty much the best way to kill it besides leaving it under a hot lamp, and her little friend is not exception.

Floating dead, she solemnly carries him to the elephant's graveyard for fish, the toilet. Distraught from her icthicide, she decides to read a book of magic tricks safe under her covers with a flashlight. To her delight, the book comes to life and promises even the miracle of resurrection.

Mat Hara teamed with Cohen to bring the drawings and sketches to life. Such a phantasmagoria of otherworld images and semi-real environments hasn't been done since Smashing Pumpkins wowed us all with "Tonight, Tonight."

"Tim had this image in his head about a little girl who was upset and praying at her bedside," says Hara. "I sort of took that idea and tried to find an emotional reality to it. I wanted to know why the girl was upset, so I asked Tim.

"We agreed it wasn't about a 'broken home' or a 'bullied kid' necessarily, but instead, a more universal tragedy, like facing the loss of life," he continues. "We decided what would be devastating enough to the world of this little girl, was the accidental death of her beloved pet."

A more universal experience would indeed be harder to come up with, and the combination of unbelievable magic and heartbreaking realism is powerful.

Unless you're one of those folks that straps on explosives and runs headfirst at an infidel, you tend to believe harder when you're a kid than as an adult. There's a naïve certainty in the power of prayer and the unformed faith you have in higher beings.

Cohen himself appears as an angel with his backing band. They clap along with the chorus as an animated musician retrieves the goldfish's soul from whatever fishy Valhalla they go to. It's a weird juxtaposition when mixed with his low droning voice intoning, "Lord, please forgive me."

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner