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Music Video in a Day: Ben Traub's "lets make a dial tone"
Posted December 11, 2014 by Taylor Peters
WRITTEN BY
Taylor Peters
ON
December 11, 2014

 

One time I was driving my mom somewhere and she asked what I was listening to lately and I played her a little bit a of a Yellow Swans record. She listened for a minute before asking me how much I'd paid for the record. "It's just white noise," she said. "I think you got swindled."

 

"But mom!" I said, "There's all sorts of texture! And layers!" She told me I sounded like a blog post--advantage mom, to be honest--and so I switched it to Leonard Cohen because we both like Leonard Cohen.

 

I'm thinking about emailing her a link to the Ben Traub Music Video in a Day I've got the pleasure of premiering here. BrainTwins have found a way to pull out the threads of texture in something that approaches pure sound and represent it visually. They're doing in video form what I couldn't do without sounding like some dumb blog post in person. Through simple visual shafts of color that smear out of and then back into recognizability paired with background pulsing that looks like when you close your eyes and rub, we are taken on a trip that dives deep and only comes back up through a thick field of frisson.

 

Traub you might know from his turns as drummer in bands like Rooms, The Junekill Ward, Thin Fevers, and Letters in English. You might think knowing all that will prepare you for where we're headed in "lets make a dial tone." Maybe it does but it didn't for me. Seeing his solo guitar excursion at the MFT Noise-A-Thon this summer put down a bit of ground work, but even so the stuff he's jamming with on Recording Range, from which "lets make a dial tone" is taken, goes off in directions that I can't imagine many earthly minds predicting.

 

 

"lets make a dial tone's" structure is infinitely simple--beginning with voices talking, descending into drone, and then coming back up again into those voices--tied up neatly with a bow even, but it's still somehow fully surprising. It reminds me of what a creative writing professor once told me about the endings for great short stories. They've got to surprise the reader, but they've got to, in retrospect, make absolutely perfect sense. They've got to come out of nowhere but still somehow feel inevitable.

 

And BrainTwins, man, with their visuals, are a welcome return to the MFT Music Video in a Day series. They've been busy lately, in case you didn't know, notably providing the visuals for the Sedcairn Archives release show at Joyful Noise a little while back. And now, after beautifully kicking the series off back in August with a video for Chicago Bulls Hat's "Criticize," they've found some occult knobs to twist harder rightward with this one. It's the same as with the song: there's an elegant simplicity about it, and surprise still sneaks in and knocks you over.

 

Somehow, watching this video seems to represent an absolutely idealized version of leaning back and closing your eyes to Traub's track. If that seems like a weird, non-specific way of describing the thing, then you haven't watched it yet. Do that now.

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