In a world where videos can be afterthoughts, branding and promotion only, the label Ghostly International and founding artist Matthew Dear have been a beacon for real design. So, it’s little surprise that the new video for Matthew Dear’s “Slowdance” off Black City has taken time, and treats viewers to sumptuously-considered layers of texture. Put these next to the other visual artefacts of Black City, and Matthew Dear has created a delightfully-immersive world of texture and visual rhythm.

“Slowdance” is full of liquid layers of images, as if emerging from the chemical bath of a darkroom. Moments with the model’s hand can be poetic, as if she’s frozen in stone. It’s a perfect counterpart to the psychedelic-noir, urban-fantastic black-and-white landscapes of Dear’s album and visual expressions. The visuals around this record have been poetry in shades of gray. The creator, San Diego-based filmmaker Charles Bergquist, has some reflections with the label in the notes below.

Indeed, my only criticism is, while I have no objection to seeing pretty ladies flaunt their prettiness, sometimes the models in videos seem more like fetish objects than integral narrative. With some gestures standing out so beautifully, and moments in which low-contrast outlines make her blend into the gray, dusty cast of the film, the segments where she seems to simply writhe around in underwear for the benefit of the viewer are to me distracting. This probably wouldn’t be the video for it anyway, but I wonder if the electronic music community might not explore physicality, sexuality, and the human form outside of the typically-narrow perimeters of our mass culture. People are beautiful; why, then, if we want to present a beautiful person concern ourselves with being conventional?

I think it’s a video worth criticizing, because the whole piece is beautifully choreographed to the music and a must-watch. And I certainly welcome other readings and disagreement in comments.

More notes:

Almost a full year after the release of Matthew Dear’s monochromatic opus, Black City, the album’s swansong single, “Slowdance,” gets a video.

San Diego filmaker Charles Bergquist was tasked with transforming the undulating piece of goth romanticism into a video. He received, basically, creative autonomy, and set about trying to decipher a track that is, in his words, “about the disruption of memory, at it’s visual core.” The result is a fluid, heady, almost voyeuristic collage of urban landscapes, visual effects, and unsubtle shots of a certain ingenue. “In the song’s build and layering of memories of her,” he says, “She, the environment shared, and the unknown becomes blended, fractured and infinitely heaped together.” It does look like thinking backwards feels—uncertain, romantic, bizarre.”

“The lyrics drove the photography and the sound drove the texture and slices,” Bergquist says. “For most of the edit and post-production work, I let the track dictate the visuals.”

That means slightly regimented cuts—timed to beats sometimes, but not always—a complete lack of color, aqueous imagery, and a microscopic attention to detail. And with that, the final piece of the Black City puzzle has fallen into place.

Director : Charles Bergquist
Produced : Charles Bergquist


Director Of Photograhy : Charles Bergquist & Mark Shonka
Starring : Nicole Lively

Hair and Make Up : Chantall Northrop
Stylist / Wardrobe : Katrina Adair
Production Assistants :
Andrew Martin
Tommy McAdams

My favorite in this series – and perhaps fully exposing my personal bias for expressive abstraction – is MDBC by Morgan Beringer. Looking as though a film projector went on an acid trip – and then saw its melting film dropped over the edge of an Antarctic glacier – icy high-contrast images crystallize, then freeze over, then drip in and out of vision.

Maybe it’s telling that for Beringer’s work here, there are no program notes. It looks to me as though some of the work here was done optically. It doesn’t matter: it’s stunning.

See also the splendid live film Ghostly put out:

This immersive short film by m ss ng p eces takes you inside the psyche of Matthew Dear as he prepares for a live performance.​​

video by m ss ng p eces

Director: Sam Fleischner
Exec Producer: Ari Kuschnir

Special thanks
Jeff Owens, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Eric Epstein, Robert Lopuski, Will Calcutt

Ghostly, indeed.