Heart of Palms
Published June 23, 2009
The new video for “Monte Alban,” by Berlin and New York-based duo PALMS (Nadja Korinth and Ryan Schaefer), looks a little like what might have happened if Koyaanisqatsi had been less teleological, and about ambience. Like Godfrey Reggio’s film, PALMS’ video rejects straightforward narrative in favor of a hodgepodge of brief, deeply evocative shots—fists clenching a bedsheet; a sunset revealed and hidden again as Venetian blinds are turned; a face on a computer screen laughing and then screaming. Rather than advancing an agenda, though, the aim is solely to create a mood: it’s beautiful, eerie art for beautiful, eerie art’s sake.
The mix of clips, directed by Brett Milspaw and Tina Tyrell, is well suited given the song’s musical content. Milspaw says, “Ryan’s cold spoken vocals seem to communicate through the ether to some distant figure, while Nadja’s strange combination of hysterical screaming, yodeling, and violent breathing, conjure up a feeling that something occurred, is about to occur, or never occurred at all.” (Actually, Nadja’s voice doesn’t sound as bad as all that—there’s a definite melody in her caterwauling; it’s terrifying and comforting at once.)
Milspaw continues, “We wanted to further these feelings in a visual memory/flashback/flash-forward-a sort of trailer for a dream gone bad, something primal and elemental with just a touch of intrigue.” He might just as well be describing the video for M83’s “Run Into Flowers,” which is a happy coincidence—M83 fans will find something to identify with in PALMS’ dreamy synth and slow chk-chk buildup.