I am a child of the 80’s. I have vivid memories of when my family first got cable television. I can’t recall the exact year it was when that magical box suddenly appeared atop our living room television set, but I know it was sometime in the early 80’s. From that day forward and all through my early-teenage years I dedicated hours of my life to vegging out in front of the tube watching music videos on MTV and eventually VH-1.
For as long as I have been interested in music I have been equally interested in the visual aspects that go along with music. As a young child digging through my parents LP collections, I was just as enthralled with the album covers as I was with the music inside. So I was completely helpless against the lure of a TV channel that played music videos 24-hours a day. It opened my eyes to a mysterious world I never knew existed. I was immediately hooked.
Eventually I got my drivers license and began going to live shows and watching videos became less of a part of my life. MTV drastically cut back on the amount of videos they played, and most of the indie bands I became interested in didn’t even make videos (or if they did I had no way of knowing about them). It hasn’t been until very recently that I’ve began watching videos again. The internet has made videos readily accessible in a variety of ways, and that’s a good thing. Yes, a good percentage of the videos produced today are just as bad as they were in the 80’s, but some are better than I could have ever imagined.
One video in particular that stands above and beyond anything I have seen in quite some time is this video for the song The Rip Tide, by the band Beirut. I had recently been hooked on the album by the same name so I decided to seek out any videos that had been released in support of the album. I have to say, I wasn’t ready for what hit me when I first watched this particular video.
For those unfamiliar with Beirut; the band is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon. The music is a beautiful concoction of layered indie rock and a variety of world music influences. They released two other full-length albums and a hand full of EP’s before the release of The Rip Tide in August of 2011. I had been a fan of their first album Gulag Orkestar, which received huge critical-acclaim and made many “best-of” lists in 2006. ButThe Rip Tide, in my opinion, is far and away the best thing the band has done to date. The songs on The Rip Tide have an emotional depth that can’t quite be matched.
The video was directed by video artist Houmam Abdallah. Abdallah successfully took the piece of music to a level that couldn’t be achieved with audio alone. This is what I look for in a great album cover, or poster, or music video, or live show. You experience the music with the visual and they become inseparable. You can no longer imagine one without the other. It’s the ultimate in artistic collaboration. The two pieces enhance each other and live in perfect harmony, giving the viewer or listener the perfect aesthetic experience. So now when I hear this song, the simple beat and swirling horns transport me back to that lone sailboat drifting in a vast ocean of beautiful color. If you don’t feel anything when those huge swashes of blue come pouring from the sky just before the three-minute mark, check your pulse.