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This mixtape recipe is not just a collection of songs, but a collection of films with music, and the connection between the pieces is one of visual feel. Long gone are the days when a music video was strictly a promotional accompaniment to a new single release. A growing array of film makers choose existing musical material as a stimulus for creating loosely related short pieces of visual art. Other projects emerge in which film-making and music-making are parts of a larger artistic project, each carrying its own weight. In many cases the resulting film has little to do with showcasing a band or titillating with cavorting divas; the focus is rather on exploring another dimension of the aesthetics of a piece of music. Below are three recent videos that are worth a look and that share a common wintry palette and a certain captivating forlornness.

Pjusk – Sus
Pjusk are a Norwegian electronic duo who specialize in tense, icy soundscapes and have a new album due March 12 on the Glacial Movements label. A song from their 2010 album Sval was recently made the subject of a short film by Till Nowak, a German digital artist. The video works with snowy aerial footage of the Nordic landscape that indwells Pjusk’s music, but springs some visual surprises, taking things off-kilter enough to match the track’s uneasy ambience.

Pjusk – Sus on Vimeo.

Richard Knox and Frederic D. Oberland – Sleeping Land (Part 1)
The Rustle of the Stars by Richard Knox and Frederic D. Oberland is a beautiful recent release of ambient classical music that sets out to trace a musical journey through the diaries of North Pole explorers. Knox and Oberland write: “We kept in mind the first polar expeditions, Edgar Allan Poe’s Dream-Land, the ships trapped or crushed by ice, the point of no-return, the minds sinking, the attempt on the Pole ending in disaster, the quest of the Northwest Passage, Erebus & Terror, the Mercy Bay, Mangazeya, Charles Francis Hall, Beechey Island, the Midnight sun and the Polar night.” The video that is accompanied by the track Sleeping Land (Part 1) works literally with the arctic setting; the grainy polar footage and the music’s mournful strains make for an evocative pairing.

RICHARD KNOX & FREDERIC D. OBERLAND – ‘Sleeping Land (Part I)’ from Gizeh Records on Vimeo.

Ólafur Arnalds – Near Light

In October 2011, multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds embarked on a seven-day recording session, producing a song a day and offering them for free download. His label, Erased Tapes, have just released an animated film to accompany one of those songs, titled Near Light. The film continues the use of archetypal, emotive images of captivity and freedom that have been evident in past Arnalds videos and in the visuals used at his live performances. This one shares the white/grey register of the previous two, but the palette here derives from the emotional winter of the daily grind rather than the grind of ice floes, and ends with an encouraging glimpse of summer.

Ólafur Arnalds – Near Light (Official Music Video) from Erased Tapes on Vimeo.


David Smith currently lives in the Midwestern United States, where he teaches, writes, and enjoys a very wide range of music, with regard to which he claims no expertise whatsoever beyond that of a dedicated and appreciative listener.
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