As you probably already know, L.A. psych fiend Ty Segall has an awesome new album called Manipulator, out on Drag City. You can read our rave review of it over hither. What you might not know is that there’s an interactive music video for the titular track, created by a gaggle of folks, headed up by director Matt Yoka (who previously did a music video for Ty’s Goodbye Bread) and designer/programmer Simon Wiscombe. Check it out here (the video below is not the interactive version). If this whole thing seems familiar to you, that might be because Arcade Fire used a similar premise awhile back, but beyond this superficial similarity the two don’t much resemble each other. Yoka and Wiscombe’s project has a distinctly more rough around the edges feel. It’s also a lot more funny and ironic than Arcade Fire ever really get.
An organ breaths as the red curtain rises. The sun turns into a baby, a mountain into weed, a cactus into naked legs, all while Ty’s sweet voice and raucous guitars wash over you. It’s pretty hypnotic and fun, even if it doesn’t really feel like a movie. It’s mostly a video-captured Ty singing and shredding, stuck into various composite scenes made from different cultural artifacts- in a bedroom, against an ambiguously colorful and malleable backdrop, in a desert. Clicking on the various objects littering the screen makes them change into something else, usually completely out of place, resulting in a lot of trippy non-sequiters, along with ocassional surprise harmonies. Clicking on Ty himself makes a bunch of arms explode out of him and change everything on the screen, resulting in some twisted combos. At one point, if you click on his face, the top of his head lifts away and his brain comes out, which you can then click on to turn into random things like an owl and lemon (a reference to his stupendous early album Lemons?). It has a pleasant sort of kitschy feel, light-hearted and playful, not taking itself too seriously.
“Interactive design” is creeping into our lives more and more, so its refreshing to see the different ways creative people are applying it to more DIY efforts. The whole medium has a lot of potential for homegrown projects, given the relatively low overhead it takes for anyone to learn the skills and get the tools these days. Hopefully this is only the beginning of musicians and friends using these kinds of tools to enrich their web presences. They may not be substitutes for full-blown music videos, but its definitely a great way to brighten our online cultural horizons.