Just when did Sub Pop change from being the home of grunge into an American Sarah Records?
Sub pop - Acquired Taste (DVD)
Reading the track-listing for this is like reading a timetable for an 'All Tomorrows Parties' festival.
Just when did Sub Pop change from being the home of grunge into an American Sarah Records? Probably just after I bought my last Sub Pop record, sometime in the mid 90s. Probably about the same time that they could afford to make videos for their bands, and hey, whaddaya know? Here's a video collection of these bands for me to look at! Although I've heard of most of the bands on here, if I've heard any of them the music hasn't stuck in my head. Glancing down the track-listing Iron and Wine leap out, as I've been meaning to find out what they sound like for a couple of years. Wolf Parade too... Ah... and there's an old trooper, Mudhoney, bringing up the rear. All of the videos are new to me: I don't have MTV so even if these bands managed to get played I wouldn't know it.
But hang on, this is a DVD. Am I meant to be reviewing the music, or the videos. Or how the two go together? Both I suppose, and how the whole thing sits together as a concept. Blimey. (yes we ask the "unaskable" – ed)
When I sat down and watched this, video after video, I started to notice familiar patterns. There are the videos with stop frame animation, the videos with forests, the videos with bands performing and the videos with bands performing in a forests. The exceptions, therefore, become the most interesting. Iron and Wine are one of those (although I'm disappointed by how they sound, not sure what I was expecting). One has a slow motion, black and white encounter between a black woman and a white guy in a dusty allotment (or whatever the southern American equivalent is), and another has a pan along a picnic table, then back again as it starts to rain. Pretty.
There's also a good one where the screen is a dull brown colour, with weird shapes moving around. I initially thought this was another 6th form standard animation, but it's actually racoons licking chocolate from a pane of glass. Well done The Constantines, or rather the director Ante Kovac.
My favourite video is my favourite because the band are a new discovery for me (and it doesn't quite fit into any of the 4 standards as noted above). The Kinski video has a spin on the straight performance theme: they break into a music shop at night and stop to wig out on the stock before carrying on with their thievery (they make good their escape with a glowing green cube). However, Kinski's music was a revelation. The multi layered guitars giving the kind of aural texture and energy that I haven't encountered for years. I've invested in a CD since and I've not been disappointed.
So, what is this DVD for? I can't really see a coherant 'Sub Pop' look and feel to the videos, they're all directed by different people, maybe it's for people who want to watch a video whenever they want. But what about the internet? I pick a video at random and, sure enough, it's there in full on youtube.com. Yes, I'm grateful for Acquired Taste for introducing me to Kinski, but I didn't enjoy watching it. In fact I had to do it in 3 sittings. I wouldn't recommend that any of my friends buy it and I can't see me playing this over and over again.
Words: Chris Gibson.