Think of the new album video by JAF 34 “EMPTY” as something of a short cosmic thriller and science fiction film with obvious nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Jodorowsky, Stephen Kostanski and Panos Cosmatos. Musically the arc is like taking the very concept of dream pop to much more ambitious heights than usual. Yes, the flowing, refreshing synth drones that evolve and slip into the cracks of consciousness. Sure the ethereal, simple guitar line that wanders even as it suggests a distant destination. But JAF 34 doen’t leave it there, chapters of this song proceed to give a musical depiction of the way we have regulated our time on the earth and given up so much of our lives to the commodification of not just our waking hours but how the content we help to create to offer up as products of social capital monetizable as experiences and bits of information for others and as markers algorithms can use to market to us and to other people whose own characteristics and patterns of behavior and consumption match our own. This recursive feedback loop the film suggests does in fact leave us fairly empty and running on a kind of treadmill that serves capital instead of our genuine selves. The music thus in the point in the film reflects the layers of distortion and, flux and frantic and desperate activity and for what? More wandering and chasing paths outside our genuine and organic interests and desires and following those suggested to us by an impersonal economic model that enriches large corporations at the expense of society and our individual psyches. It’s an ambitious piece of work that has more in common with a work of art out of FLUXUS, Holly Herndon or Laurel Halo than any standard experimental electronic or rock artist as its social critique is inseparable from its execution. Watch the “EMPTY” in its entirety on YouTube and connect with JAF 34 at the website linked below.
Cindy Gravity free associates cultural references in the video for the “Rocket Men” single. From the VHS glitch and simulation of camcorder effects and old video editing effects. From the nod to music video for Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” to a tin foil headband to eccentric early 80s music videos like if Harry Nilsson and Thomas Dolby made a parody of the format through a creative use of the limitations of available technology the video is like a collage of unusual and laid back irony. The song itself is an interesting blend of downtempo pop and what might be described as 80s New Wave kitsch with keyboards rimmed with distorted synth lines and vocals that shift from contemplative to borderline intense as though insisting someone produce the rocket men who promised us a different kind of future than the dystopian present in which we’ve passed critical years in science fiction. Certainly 1984 was long ago, 2001 nearly twenty years in the past and we sure didn’t get advanced replicants like Roy Blatty and Pris Stratton in 2016. Cindy Gravity almost sounds disappointed we didn’t get any of this except for that whole Big Brother deal. Watch the video for “Rocket Men” on YouTube and connect with Cindy Gravity at the links below.