Monday, 11 July 2011

Warpaint – Warpaint (The Video)

Ever since seeing some promo pics for the shoot of Warpaint in NME months ago, I’ve been counting the settings of the sun until it was released.  Finally, about two weeks ago rumours surfaced that it would be premiered on July 7th, and lo and behold, there it was!

For those who’ve not yet discovered this majestic band, Warpaint are an all girl quartet from Los Angeles, peddling a highly original psychedelic dream pop/shoe gaze sound.  Formed in 2004, they consist of Emily Kokal (Guitar, Vocals), Jenny Lee Lindberg (Bass) and Theresa Wayman (Guitar, Vocals).  They’ve followed the tried and tested Spinal Tap method of a reasonably stable guitar/bass line-up with a multitude of different (and quite surprising) drummers.   First up was actress Shannon Sossamon, sister of bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg.  She departed to focus on acting, and was replaced by Josh Klinghoffer, who subsequently left to become the Red Hot Chilli Peppers new guitarist.  A few drummers kept the throne warm, but eventually along came a young Australian called Stella Mozgawa, who fit the mould perfectly.  Three weeks after she joined the band, they recorded their debut album The Fool, which was released in October 2010.

L - R: Jenny Lee Lindberg, Stella Mozgawa, Theresa Wayman, Emily Kokal

Track two on the album was a tune called Warpaint, and that is the focus of today’s writings.  Warpaint starts off with a mechanical grinding, from which emerges a hypnotic guitar line, quickly reinforced by the bass.  From there, it takes off into an upbeat melange of fuzzy guitars, funky bass and unbelievable drumming.  The snare patterns Stella beats out caused me a minor breakdown when I first heard them, and her drumming style is stunningly fresh.

Stella on skins
The video accompanying it is equally interesting.  From a visual perspective, it is a lovely mix of the plain of the real world, and the psychedelic lushness into which their music transports the listener.  The point at which the song progresses past the intro to really start moving (at around the one minute mark) is synchronised to the point at which the first underwater excursion begins.  The general premise of the video is probably something to do with looking beneath the surface.  It features the four musicians doing something mundane – Theresa is crying by a waterfall, Stella is a traffic warden, Jenny is a Hasidic Jew (complete with moustache) wandering the beach and Emily is exploring a forest.

Jenny demonstrates the mundanities of life
 Over the course of their trips, they variously come into contact with water, which serves as a portal to a transformation, and an underwater meeting point.  The whole thing has a very Alice feel to it, including a four way submarine tea party.  
Mad Musicians Tea Party
One point that I’m sure they really wanted to hammer home is the difference between the mundane world and the Warpaint world.  Above ground, they are all dressed in darkly coloured, mundane street clothes but once submerged, they are all clothed in flowing, colourful dresses and surrounded by flora.  The colours underwater are particularly notable; the contrasts they obtain are exquisite, and they make for a video that is visually stunning.  The saturated greens and blues are the main colour focus, and it works brilliantly. 
Exquisite Colours
The only downside (and an inevitable one) is the fact that in order to stand any chance of garnering airplay, the song has had to be cut from a lengthy six minutes to a more palatable four.  This means that in a song that to me is not far from perfect, thirty three percent has been cut, but this is sadly unavoidable.  Additionally, they cut some particularly good parts of the song, which saddens me.


Ultimately though, it’s an imaginative video that showcases the mellow, otherworldly side of the band and emphasises their ethereal nature perfectly.  A perfect video to escape to.