Dripping with vividly-acidic synthetic analog textures that wash in and out of shot footage, the new music video for Maryland, USA artist Maxmillon Dunbar is a dreamy reverie of light and image. It’s a bath in color, swept up in the warm glow of the single “Loving the Drift.”
Brooklyn-based, DC-born artist Aurora Halal is the director. I caught a terrific live set by her earlier this winter as part of her tour with DC’s virtuoso ITAL (see video below), so I can attest that she’s as at home in performance as in the studio. The video here has that live performance feel, a loose, improvisatory rhythm that belies the amount of layering and editing going on. But make no mistake: Aurora tells CDM that she heavily edited the results in Final Cut. The result is a true digital/analog hybrid, combining the LZX Industries analog synthesizer with high-def footage of the dancers and digital editing. (Michael Potvin collaborated with her to produce the video synth content; it’s well worth checking out the fine hardware from Texan/Australian maker LZX, who do analog video modules in Eurorack form.)
The process is worth the effort, in my mind. The dancers, Angela Chambers & Angelina Dreem, are visible only in fleeting moments, as though their movement and the sweep of abstract textures are indistinguishable. That’s a welcome change from the sometimes-blunt impact of choreography in many videos. (See also Juno’s write-up.)
Aurora’s other work follows similar threads, in a simmering stew of layered media.
For ITAL’s “Boi,” she produced a frenetic combination of textures. Visuals are piled on top of one another in maximalist exploitation of the color spectrum, mirroring ITAL’s dynamically-saturated sound.
In an interview for Dazed, Aurora described her process on the ITAL video (and her philosophy in general):
My videos are dream sequences mostly.. either a sexualized fantasy like ‘big coast’, a half dream like ‘shadow disco’, or in this case a psychedelic trip, the images u see burned in ur mind after a weekend of music & perhaps a somewhat dark encounter w a lover..
I reach for whatever mediums help me create that subjective trip feeling. I love my analog setup (video mixers & other hardware) because it’s so chaotic & fluid, creating unexpected almost subconscious flows of video that I can later edit & recombine w more care. The digital / analog path is going back & forth many times. There’s HD, VHS, samples from YouTube & tons of reprocessing going in all directions.
Her video for Protect-U’s “U-Uno” is lovely, too; it seems like the sort of trip you’d have if you could lick hallucinogenic VHS tape. I’m generally a little wary of the endlessly-nostalgic retro popularity in this music scene – my own personal bias or fears – but Aurora’s latest work feels spontaneous and free.
While we’re at it, let’s enjoy some more Maxmillon Dunbar in this live set: