Of Steampunk, Monsters, Magic and Men

Of Monsters and Men - Little TalksHow an Icelandic indie folk band won me over with a tale of steampunk, magic and monsters.

Music videos seem the perfect medium for speculative fiction. With their short length and ability to delve into any subject matter, they are allowed to be as creative as the artists and directors dare to dream. Most of my favorite come from Hip Hop–from Gangstarr’s THX-1138 inspired You Know My Steez, to Jeru the Damaja’s comic book animated Can’t Stop the Prophet to Gnarls Barkley’s Going On, which features a story of several teenagers who stumble upon a trans-dimensional doorway in urban Jamaica. Last year, my favorite was by far Pharaoh Monch’s Black Hand Side, whose use of reality-bending glasses to make social commentary seemed to take its cue from John Carpenter’s They Live. I often single out these tracks and videos to combat common stereotypes about Hip Hop, a much maligned genre that has long had a relationship (that often goes ignored) with speculative fiction. Blogged about it way back when, right here and again right here. Don’t sleep!

But my musical tastes can be quirky…

So this year, I’m giving the title of favorite speculative music video to an Icelandic indie-folk band called Of Monsters and Men, for  their single Little Talks. Yep. I said indie-folk. And double yep, I said Iceland.

of monsters and menThe video, a mix of steampunk and fantasy, tells the tale of five sky sailors who discover a mythic alien creature (played by co-singer/guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir), dropped from the sky. Hopping aboard their airship, they attempt to help her find her way  across a landscape of ancient ruins filled with fantastic monsters. In each instance she comes to their rescue, destroying the terrifying beasts with her devastating magic. Their trek finally ends when they manage to reunite her with the one she was seeking–a monstrous entity out of some Lovecraftian nightmare with whom she seems to share a kinship.

The animation, shot and directed by the ingenious team of WeWereMonkeys, is as wonderfully done as the brief storyline, which has left viewers puzzled and awestruck since the video first premiered on youtube back in February. I haven’t been able to stop watching it since! Inevitably, this led me to their album My Head Is an Animal. Take a listen, and you’ll hear songs that invoke magical creatures and fantasy–an ode to Icelandic mythology and folklore. Not bad, for the folks that gave us elves, frost giants, dwarves and wyrms.

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5 thoughts on “Of Steampunk, Monsters, Magic and Men

  1. I just read your review of the movie of ‘Cloud Atlas’. I’ve almost finished the book and not planning to see the movie until I do but I was interested to read what you thought. Looking through you blog, I found this post too. It’s nice to see people appreciating music videos like this. I recently bought their album and it was this video that first drew me to them. I absolutely love videos like this.
    Also, I like your blog 🙂

  2. Pingback: Memoirs of an Atypical Blerd | Phenderson Djèlí Clark

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