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December 19, 2007 4:02 PM   Subscribe

Michel Gondry on the making of "Declare Independence" (also, YouTube), his seventh collaboration with Björk. It makes their romp with a Paint Piano a couple years ago seem oddly prescient. posted by hermitosis (39 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I hate to be a Negative Nancy, but this music video is utter drivel. Björk's new album is disappointing, this song is tedious, and the video has one clever concept that's repeated over and over for 4 minutes of boredom. Such a shame; the earlier Björk / Gondry collaborations are so much better. This video's just a fountain of crap in the shape of a concept.
posted by Nelson at 4:14 PM on December 19, 2007

Metafilter: a fountain of crap in the shape of a concept.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 4:17 PM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Nelson is wrong; the concept isn't clever, it's banal. Shame, as everything else you linked is IMO excellent.
posted by Leon at 4:19 PM on December 19, 2007

I didn't like Volta as much as I did previous albums (and I firmly believe Medulla would have made a wonderful EP), but I don't know if it's tedious on its own or tedious because it wasn't such a huge shift from aforementioned earlier work.

The video is also pretty meh; having been at shows where this was performed, I think she could have just shot a video from live footage and more adequately conveyed the energy of the song. (Especially with Damien Taylor on Reactable duty - I met him at Sasquatch and have a huge crush on him now.)

of her videos, I have to admit my favorite is the one for All is Full of Love done with Chris Cunningham; it can be seen here. There's something about the robots and the dis/assembly and I'll stop now before I start gushing.
posted by heeeraldo at 4:29 PM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

I was skeptical at the beginning, but as the bursts of color began to appear I began to see what was happening, and by the time the she caused the flag to raise with the soldiers' stomping, I thought it was awesome. Especially compared to the halfhearted videos from Medulla (though I liked Who Is It? and Triumph of a Heart alright).

Her new album seems to be exactly the same kind of album that "Post" was-- a sampler of different approaches and styles in search of her new direction. Which I admit was a little disappointing, considering her commitment to theme in the past few albums, but I liked enough of the tracks to make it worthwhile.
posted by hermitosis at 4:31 PM on December 19, 2007

Maybe I've been lulled into expecting too much by Bjork's previous song/video genius, but I thought this was just bullshit. It makes me a bit sad, really, as Bjork has been the soundtrack to at least two pivotal and sublime events in my life, and I typically regard everything she does as the Golden Droppings of Celestial Goings-on (i.e., mana from heaven). Boo.
posted by Pecinpah at 4:35 PM on December 19, 2007

Yeah, I thought it was pretty boring as well. A few good moments, wrapped up in some banal repetition. It would have been cool if it was 60 seconds long.
posted by delmoi at 4:36 PM on December 19, 2007

Flagged as meh.
posted by wendell at 4:39 PM on December 19, 2007

Your favorite kookoo bunny chantoosy (still) sucks.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 4:47 PM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Tough room. Looks like I'm just an army of me.
posted by hermitosis at 5:08 PM on December 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Attica! Attica!
posted by miss lynnster at 5:22 PM on December 19, 2007

Yeah, I hate to pile on, but...Gondry is a genius, and Bjork is super talented and still cute as hell, but both this song and video left me cold.
posted by zardoz at 7:01 PM on December 19, 2007

I'll join in the pile on, but for more personal reasons. Bjork ran a music video contest as a Volta promotional shtick, this past spring/summer, for "Innocence." The contest was really badly handled, including pushing the deadline forward nearly a month (leaving participants two weeks to scramble to complete their videos). Supposedly, Bjork selected the 11 finalists - which is strange, because they range from mediocre to terrible: check 'em out here.

Of course, I'm probably just bitter. But I do think mine (quicktime) was way better.
posted by TheRoach at 7:05 PM on December 19, 2007

Not one of the better tracks from what's not one of her better albulms, and not one of his better videos. Still, I wish them both well.

I wonder what the Faroe Islanders thought of it?
posted by Artw at 7:51 PM on December 19, 2007

I think this sucked too. I didn't feel stimulated, euphoric, happy, there was no post-blowjob glow. It didn't even scratch my back. As a consumer, I demand more from my entertainment.

posted by suedehead at 7:56 PM on December 19, 2007

I like the paint piano thing though.
posted by Artw at 8:11 PM on December 19, 2007

It was very tedious. Neat idea, tedious implementation.

The song sounded like a stiff version of the totally awesome "Shaking Hell" by Sonic Youth, on Confusion is Sex. Sounds like someone's been listening to a lot of Kim Gordon lately.

"Shake off your Dress! (shake! shake!) Shake off your flesh! (shake! shake!)"
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 8:23 PM on December 19, 2007

Sometimes, in my dreams, this song is a duet with PJ Harvey, Trent Reznor remixes it, and Mark Romanek directs the video.
posted by katillathehun at 9:22 PM on December 19, 2007

I saw Björk in concert earlier this year, so this video is less a disappointment than that was, at least.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:23 PM on December 19, 2007

TheRoach: That's quite nice, actually. I'm not fond of the song, but you did good work on the video. I've done some motion graphics and animation work myself, and I'm curious about how you did some of it. Are the marker scrawls actual marker on paper, or are they digitally generated?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:26 PM on December 19, 2007

AV: really? I saw her twice in a week (Deer Lake, Sasquatch) and loved it; there were a couple of songs I'd've loved to hear (Who Is It comes to mind) but I wouldn't have called it a disappoinment by any stretch of the imagine.

Of course, I was no more than five rows back for both shows and choked up during the brass-backed version of "Joga" and so I admit to bias in the matter, but still... was it that bad for you?
posted by heeeraldo at 11:31 PM on December 19, 2007

If any pairing other than Bjork and Michel Gondry had produced this, I imagine it would be panned as drivel across the board. The song and the video seem very amateurish and infantile to me. It's strange to see the way artists react to the "can do no wrong" mentality of their fans. Some go in this direction, and start releasing what they surely consider high art, others never trust themselves to live up to their own hype and effectively disappear (I'm looking at you, Axl Rose.)
posted by biggity at 11:45 PM on December 19, 2007

The paint piano was a much better and more effective idea. He hasn't made a decent video in a while now. Still, a great post just for the previous collaborations - some of the best images in music video history in those six videos.
posted by fire&wings at 1:18 AM on December 20, 2007

IMHO, Volta is as good as any other Bjork album, which is a little hit and miss, but overall awesome.

This is also my favourite song off the album. I can't speak to the video being especially amazing, but I still thought it was entertaining.

Everyone else can get stuffed.
posted by Alex404 at 1:59 AM on December 20, 2007

I liked it quite a bit, I must say.
posted by oddman at 5:45 AM on December 20, 2007

While I can say I love both artists (Gondy and Bjork) this video was pretty bad for all the aforementioned reasons. The Paint Piano was cool though.

I'd rather they keep trying new things and miss a few now and then, rather than have them churn out the same predictable garbage year after year.
posted by inthe80s at 6:51 AM on December 20, 2007

Joakim Ziegler: The marker scrawls are, in fact, all hand drawn - a separate drawing for each frame (the old-school way). The only part in which I used a computer, regarding the scrawls at least, was during the second chorus - I punched out the holes in the drawings in photoshop, so you could see the background through parts of it. At its base, though, pretty much everything in the video was either hand-drawn or hand-collaged.

Drop me a Mefi Mail if you've got more questions - I'd be more than happy to answer.
posted by TheRoach at 7:39 AM on December 20, 2007

The song strikes me as Bjork taking on MIA's subject matter (post-colonialism, broadly defined), but not having very much insightful to say about it, because she lacks personal experience of it.

The video was more interesting, but it seems to me very dark -- it's all about demagoguery.
With her "megaphone" Bjork controls the masses like a puppeteer controlling marionettes. Creepy as hell.

It made me think about Yugoslavia and Rwanda... separatist leaders whipping up rage, thru repetition of a simple message of victimhood. The mechanical quality of it all suggests brute manipulation. The logical, but missing, climax of Bjork's song would be a chant of "Kill them! Kill them! Kill them!"
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:56 AM on December 20, 2007

Ny idea if Denmark is actively oppressing the people of Greenloand and the Faroe islands or anything? The idea seems weird, given how sensible and egalitarina the Danish seem to be.
posted by Artw at 10:27 AM on December 20, 2007

I'm genuinely curious - why don't people like this? Everyone just says it's drivel and a piece of crap - why?
posted by suedehead at 11:32 AM on December 20, 2007

I can't speak for others, but in my cause it's becuase it's a bit shouty and tuneless and features Bjork dressed as an ugly Christmas ornament. She does a track like this every other album, and I pretty much never like them. Couple that with this being a pretty weak albulm on top of a previous albulm that was pretty in parts but didn;t do much for me and you get a big "meh".

But like I say, here hoping for something more interesting out of the both of them in future.
posted by Artw at 11:45 AM on December 20, 2007

Artifice_Eternity: Well, I wouldn't fault Bjork for that too much. M.I.A. is basing her whole persona (and thus far, her entire project) on Sri Lankian and Third World diaspora, whereas "Declare Independence" is a one-off ode to the Faroe Island and Greenland. M.I.A. is obviously going to have a lot more room to explore the topic.

Plus, "Declare Independence" works as an invocation rather than any sort of meditation. It's aim is to be visceral, not insightful. The best M.I.A. song to compare it to would probably be "Pull Up the People", which kinda works in the same way.
posted by Weebot at 1:03 PM on December 20, 2007

I have said to friends that M.I.A.'s album was the album that everyone had actually expected Volta would be: a dancey, globe-trotting, fearlessly feminine pop manifesto. So the younger, fleeter cat got the kill, but hopefully Bjork still has some good hunting years left in her.

This song took a long time to grow on me; it's sort of nutty and atonal, and nothing like what people have come to love about Bjork (though certainly what we've come to occasionally expect). I don't get the video-hatred either though! I've shown it to three people who though it was at least really interesting, and it was passed along to me by someone who liked it too.

I'd like to chalk it up to people showing up early to a thread and being impatient and dismissive, but then again, I'm not going out on a limb for this video; I agree both artists have done better. It's just its own thing, and I thought it was worth sharing.
posted by hermitosis at 5:38 PM on December 20, 2007

Totally. I don't feel the concept is coherent, and with such a didactic song it needed to be. What do these strands mean in relation to the lytic? Also, for such a clearly denotative music video, more narrative progress is to be expected.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:23 PM on December 20, 2007

Mama Anarchia, is that you?

[develops severe allergy to Michelin Man]
posted by heeeraldo at 8:57 PM on December 20, 2007

Say, how bout that swan dress?
posted by dhartung at 9:26 PM on December 20, 2007

Say, how bout that swan dress?

There was a weird ripple effect with that dress, I think, where after 3 years it became really "in" to have that as a Halloween costume. I remember one fine Halloween where there were at least 4 or 5 Björklings running around Manhattan, and I have fond memories of having pizza with one of them - a Japanese Studies major at NYU, or something like that, and she kept asking if I was "hip to otaku culture" - as the evening wound down.

Also, I enjoy the new video. It might not be as amazing as her previous songs and videos, but jeez, it's not like it's that Simple Plan video where everyone bounces around in a car wreck.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:31 AM on December 21, 2007

I was exposed to some kind of horrible video by some shitty grunge band that doubled as a not-so-veiled recruitment poece for the National Guard last night. The combination of shitty braindead propaganda and shitty braindead youth "attitude" makes it a perfect storm of Worst-Thing-Everness. In the light of that I can't really critise Bjork that much any more, I mean, at least she doesn't make me want to vomit.

I was there to see Juno, for fucks sake, who in that audience did they actually think was going to buy into their crap?
posted by Artw at 9:44 AM on December 21, 2007

What I appreciate the most about this music video is its careful subtlety.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:20 PM on December 21, 2007

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