|Lovett as the lone pilot. Courtesy of Soapbox Films|
I was recently given the opportunity to review a brand new music video by American recording artist Ben Lovett for his atmospheric song "Eye of the Storm". While this short vignette isn't inspired by the cultures of Asia or Africa, I feel that it's such an extraordinary example of mainstream Western steampunk that I simply had to introduce it to the readers of the Steamer's Trunk.
First of all, the song is actually quite good. While the visuals of the music video certainly pack a huge punch, at no point in the video does the song become overshadowed by it- it seems like they were made for one another, like a score of a film. Furthermore it's obvious that Lovett is much more than your typical fellow with a guitar, as his sound- while fresh- has a depth and maturity to it. I particularly adored his vocal melody, which reminded me a lot of old school Alice in Chains. After hearing this, I found myself looking for more of his work.
Now, the video.
|Saying goodbye. Courtesy of Soapbox Films.|
The video of "Eye of the Storm" tells the story of an anonymous airship pilot (played by Lovett), whom we see in a very dark, simplified form (the composite coloring was the same technique used in Sin City) deciding in his melancholy to steer his airship into a massive (and possible aether-driven) storm. Throughout the video we see him preparing his craft, setting it on "autopilot", and saying goodbye to his one companion- a dragon. In the making-of featurette included with the video, Lovett tells us that the story is an allegory for getting over the breakup of a relationship by just flinging yourself face-first into the unknown. I didn't know this when I first watched the video, but knowing now it certainly gives the ending a much more optimistic (rather than hopeless) perspective.
|Courtesy of Soapbox Films|
This is how the mainstream media should be doing steampunk- with interest and ultimately the same care that the artists, fans, and participants have for it. The last year has seen a lot of mainstream artists (musicians, filmmakers, comic book writers, and developers) latching onto steampunk- either having just discovered its charm or using it as a marketing ploy. Most of these attempts have fallen flat, mostly because you can detect the lack of respect or understanding of the culture. A lot of the best steampunk media out there have emerged from people with a genuine interest in fascinating visual style, creative possibilities, and a respect for storytelling- such as the crew that worked on "Eye of the Storm". I really don't think they had set out to create a great steampunk music video. It's apparent by their commentary in the making of featurette that they had set out to tell the story of the song- and I really respect that. I seriously hope that Lovett and the video's director Christopher Alender tell some more of these stories for us.
So I invite you all to watch "Eye of the Storm"; not because it's steampunk- but because it's steampunk done right.
Once more, here's the video- available on AOL Spinner with bonus making-of featurette: http://www.spinner.com/2011/02/02/lovett-eye-of-the-storm-video/