Though it takes place in a surreal, oceanic world, video artist Jonathan William Turner's accompaniment to Chris Thompson's "Lot Hero" creates a sense of emergent narrative that makes it hard to tear yourself away. As the opening percussion and giggling voices are transfigured into the skeleton of the song, the camera jumps around an abstract pattern of waves and ripples. It begins to slowly pull back, revealing that this dynamic texture has manifested in the shape of a cat.
This is the first of many similar scenes, which, when accompanied by Thompson's hypnotic, otherworldly electronics, seem to show us not a series of mundane objects, but perhaps their platonic ideals. A stuffed rabbit, a chair, a boot, a mannequin, and a dozen other shapes are rendered alien by watery distortion. The animations are beautiful, and as each movement of the seven-minute track pulls us deeper into the music—sometimes driving electronic percussion, sometimes orchestral synths, sometimes restrained piano interludes—the visuals compel us to invent a story.
These scattered, submerged objects eventually agglomerate into a sort of ball as if magnetized, and are sucked (or make their way voluntarily?) into a massive, surprisingly placid whirlpool, at which point they once again go their separate ways. According to the artists, this represents something universal: memories rising to the surface and merging, dreamlike, into our sense of self. It's a poetic notion, and one that lends itself to endless additional interpretations. Fortunately, this is such a beautiful video that it's no chore to study it over and over again.
Chris Thompson's new EP, Lot Hero, was released earlier this month.