I received an email this morning announcing a new video release for the song ‘Repetition’ by Max Cooper, and that video was so mindbogglingly cool that it got me out of bed to write about it. It’s that good.
As usual, I like to let the artist speak for themselves whenever possible, so here’s Max Cooper on the video:
“I wanted to make something huge and intense for the new visual show, so I embarked on an attempt to visualise the infinite and it’s links to us in our everyday lives. It wasn’t something I could explicitly show, but for every chapter of the story I found a different technique to approach it. In this case, the simple idea of repetition. Apply it, and we have a form of infinity. This was also a natural fit for my music, where I had a nice excuse to push the repetitive boat out even more than usual. I kept it very stripped back to focus on the idea, with slow evolution and occasional variants to maintain some melodic engagement.
Visually, I was lucky to get to work with one of my favourite artists, Kevin McGlouglin, where we told the human side of the story, our endless pursuit of growth and “progress”, our duplication of built form and expanding cities, looking to an unbounded future of urban sprawl. It was an audio-visualisation encompassing the project title “Yearning for the Infinite”. But despite our society-endangering issues around human consumption and sustainability, it wasn’t supposed to be a doom scenario. We tried that musically and it didn’t seem to fit. There was a back and forth on the ideas and their musical and visual representation, and what worked was something that for me seems more focused on the worth of our endless striving than its possible role in our downfall.”
The video style is reminiscent of a series of gorgeous films from Ron Fricke including Samsara, Koyaanisqatsi, and Baraka, all of which take a macro and micro view of different parts of the world to show patterns, draw parallels, and point out absurdities. While this type of approach tends to reduce humanity, in the films’ cases, it actually magnified them.
So what happens in the video for ‘Repetition?’ Arguably nothing, which is exactly what happens in the song. Photos and videos are sliced up and the slices copied and laid next to each other, creating an endless expanse of apartments from a single building, or a complex machine from a single shot of a rotating Ferris wheel.
This could turn out very alienating, but the way it is shot, the small shot pulling out to reveal more and more pieces, has more of a meditative effect, just like with the music. If you started at the end of the song, you’d know ahead of time that it is essentially a series of basic, soft loops, and that might ruin the beauty of it with expectation.
Although, towards the end of the video, the slices aren’t arranged so neatly. There’s overlap, there’s business, a visual cacophony where you are pulled away from that simple origin.
‘Repetition’ is the first release of a new album, “Yearning for the Infinite,” due out November 7. The album is a commission from the Barbican, a Brutalist behemoth art center in London, which will show the accompanying film later this month at Barbican Hall.
Take a look and listen below and let me know what you think. You can listen to ‘Repetition’ on your favorite streaming services here, but do yourself a favor and watch the video first.
I work, live and play in Minneapolis.
I try to tell the story of the people that create music and experiences through pictures as well as through words.