The electro post-rock band Collapsing Scenery has been hailed as “the voice of LA’s new underground,” so it only makes sense that their tripped-out, abstract videos are essential to their music. Cool, but doesn’t every synth-dominated band these days sorta need visuals to make what is by and large a cold-blooded genre cluster feel even remotely emotive? And what’s so special about swiping a bunch of “found footage” from YouTube, throwing on a glitchy distortion filter, and calling it a “short film”? If you answered “yes” and “nothing,” in that order, then you’re exactly right– only, not about Collapsing Scenery.
The band set themselves apart with their uncharacteristically inquisitive and full-sensory approach to their music and visuals alike. When one of their own, music-man-about-town Don DeVore, directed the video for their first single, “Metaphysical Cops,” he didn’t just stick to the usual make-the-band-look-cool m.o.–he achieved this by conjuring images of the original recording process, which went down “in complete darkness wearing military issue night vision goggles on a ranch in rural Texas.”
DeVore also incorporated a much more thoughtful, actually-cinematic approach. The video flickers between kaleidoscopic pastorals, flashes of marching, military mite, and religious symbols (including the gloomy, angular spires of Týn Church, which looms over Prague like a raised pitchfork). All are potent symbols of what CS said they were after with “Metaphysical Cops,” a pretty, pretty timely meditation on the push-pull between “two modes of so-called spiritual communion, one based in love and truth, and the other in fear and violence.”
The short version? These guys aren’t your typical it-band jesters. All signs point to yes, CS actually do appear to be committed to making actual art (which is rarer than you think in pop music). That sort of explains how they managed to convince (or inspire– who knows?) Richard Kern to direct the music video for their new single, “Straight World Problems.” On Instagram, they seemed in awe of their collaborator, who they praised as “the gentleman, myth, legend“– all of which we can totally confirm since B+B spoke with Kern back in 2015 (only he might add “a little pervy” to that list).
No official word as to what Kern’s contribution is actually gonna look like, but it’s a safe bet that naked babes will be involved. And we’re not just talking skin– the women in Kern’s photos and videos are never the walking-dead-type ragdolls of fashion editorials, splayed out and sedated as commodity fetish objects for consumers’ feasting pleasure. Expect nothing less than badass birds. And if the song’s title, “Straight World Problems,” is any indication, the video is bound to take some cracks against the dominant narrative of heteronormativity, and maybe even lob a jab or two at the suffocating standards of gender binarism.
The video will premiere next week, Wednesday April 26, not on YouTube but IRL at Café Henrie, one in a growing league of hip, pastel-soaked grain bowl establishments on the Lower East Side. It’s the kind of place where you are literally a monster for not taking a bird’s-eye view shot of your Swiss chard n’ freekeh plate, and the host will probably not hesitate to call the cops on you for such reckless behavior. This might seem like an unusual venue for a gig on Planet Earth, but hey, Collapsing Scenery are a band from LA. Just do your best to avoid wearing a billowing green blouse, or really anything that could possibly be construed as plant matter, because nobody wants to end up sprawled out in a perfect plate photo tagged as #veganbabe.