Dominic Sen’s video for the new single “Natural History” is a jaunt through a natural history museum on the part of a visitor from the future captured with all of the intentionally lo-fi charm of an early 1980s camcorder. As with previous singles, Dominic Sen blends a soft synth pop with idiosyncratic science fiction concepts and the unabashed embrace of being a nerd. The lyrics of “Natural History” has lines like “A day at the museum with you is a parallel universe crossing my path” and “The mood in the gift shop is a phony uncertainty, do I purchase this postcard, do I let you inside?” No “normal” pop artist writes songs with words and imagery like that and it allows Dominic Sen to make truly unique metaphors and reinvent what romance and romanticizing and personal mythmaking can look and sound like. The “futuristic” outfit she wears in the video is about as convincing as something from a BBC production from the 1970s like something you’d see on Blake’s 7 or Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The Tomorrow People or Dr. Who. But it works and it gives the video and its syncing with the vibe of the song a charming authenticity it wouldn’t if it was too conventionally legit. The song is part of Dominic Sen’s album Can’t Tell You written with Cameron Wisch (Cende, Porches) and Ronnie Stone (Ronnie Stone & The Lonely Riders) with Lily Cohen taking on the persona of Dominic Sen, a retrofuturist glam pop icon. Watch the video on YouTube and follow Dominic Sen at the links below.
You probably don’t need to know that Dominic Sen is something an alter ego of Alexandra Lily Cohen and the seventh only surviving child of the black hole at the center of the galaxy called M64 who barely survived being swallowed by the event horizon and made their way way to Earth where pop music, fandom and the mythology of stars (movie, music etc.) proved enduringly fascinating to appreciate “Hear Me.” You probably don’t need to be immersed in a ton of nerdy lore to appreciate the signifiers in the retro-futurist science fiction themed music video. You don’t even need to have read John Christopher’s The Tripods, A.E. Van Vogt, Octavia Butler, Ada Palmer, Ann Leckie, Yoon Ha Lee, Jy Yang or Samuel R. Delaney to understand the song or its video, though that knowledge helps contextualize how deep the creativity and conceptualization runs with the song. But none of that would matter as much of the song itself wasn’t an emotional journey written as a charming dream pop song with unconventional percussion to give it exotic highlights. The song is a evocation of the experience of being objectified rather than being heard and appreciated as a full human being. That the song is upbeat and bright more than hints that Dominic Sen isn’t interested in being so defined by other people and free to let go of attempts to pen them in. In a way it’s symbolic of Cohen’s writing songs as Dominic Sen as a reconciliation of a writer of cool pop songs and nerdy pursuits and interests from a young age. Watch the video for “Hear Me” below and follow Dominic Sen at the links provided.