A few years ago, I remember having an existential late-night conversation with a fellow music geek about how we each perceive music, visually. My mind always defaults to creating a clear narrative that goes with each song, but my friend’s tends more towards the abstract: colors, shapes, and images inspired by the music. And while neither of these approaches to thinking of music visually is wrong, per se—isn’t the subjective nature of experiencing art one of the most beautiful things about it?—some songs seem to lend themselves to one over the other.
Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld’s “The Rest of Us” is a perfect example of a song that evokes a vague image of movement and buildup rather than a clear story. Though that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting to listen to. Stetson, a bass saxophonist, is known for creating complex, incredible sounds with his instrument (for example, sometimes he’s almost able to “talk” through the sax), as does Sarah Neufeld with her violin. They’re both incredibly talented musicians respectively, but when they collaborate, the result is something otherwordly that often isn’t recognizable as containing either violin or bass sax.
“The Rest of Us” contains brief glimpses into moments of movement—moments before a change, a disruption that we never see. There’s a woman running in a frozen mountain valley, about to start a fire. There’s a wolf on the run. A woman dresses in a bejeweled skin-tone suit and goes out to impress the audience on stage. A woman runs through a brush-covered desert. A pair of hunters fire their bullets (at the wolf?) but we never see the result, just a bullet flying, and then flying backwards into the gun. The video for “The Rest of Us” is an exploration of that “just before” moment, when your heart races wildly as you await an outcome. (It’s especially fitting that a heartbeat, a pounding drumbeat, accompanies the instrumentation on this track).
Watch the video below. The track comes from the newly dropped Never Were the Way She Was LP, released by Constellation Records.