Ghastly City Sleep, a Brooklyn outfit featuring members of fondly remembered Richmond punk acts City of Caterpillar and Pg 99, have released their fourth full-length, a double LP entitled Lulling Skulls, via Philadelphia label Exotic Fever Records, and today premiere the video to “Differences in Electricities”. The vinyl packaging–silkscreened jackets, newsprint inserts–is as doted upon as the music, which fuses furtive electronic textures and serpentine melodies in expansive indie-rock songs that at times evoke Radiohead, or else skewed memories of R&B. “Differences in “Electricities” features an especially engaging, wavering guitar motif, which guitarist and vocalist Brandon Evans says reflects newfound melodic proclivities for the group; overall, the song is typical of Lulling Skull‘s deeply woven production, which nevertheless manages to feel spare and sleek. The accompanying video, produced by the group and friends on a non-existent budget and filmed in Greenpoint, aims to set seemingly innocuous symbolism in eerie contexts, to render the everyday as cracked fantasy, as Evans explains in greater depth below.
Can you tell me about the stark palette and imagery for the video, how it reinforces and articulates the mood and themes of the song?
We are always contemplating the overall art of Ghastly, focusing heavily on moods and energies, trying to align them into strong paths where inner-emotions seep outwards mysteriously.
As far as “Differences In Electricities”, both sonically and visually, we used similar influences from the world around us, resulting in this abstract storyline. Influences from novelists like Murakami and Marquez come into play with “Differences In Electricities”, taking us into a weird, alternate, parallel universe; to a place where things feel eerily familiar but simultaneously, and darkly, off-kilter. Moods of lost driftings circle around in search for that inner/outer something.
Visually, the video taps into the surrealist and noir genres, in the fashion of filmmakers like Bunuel, Dali, Antonioni, and so on. We like for goth, post punk, and cold industrial loneliness to lightly creep into a warm inner modernness. The goal was to take the eerie, ebb and flow moods of the lyrics and music, and strengthen them with the visuals and movements.
The skittish backing electronic beats motivated the choices to alter the visual speeds of shots; speeding them up, slowing them down. In the middle, where the song bursts into a space wide-open, the visuals begin cutting extremely fast, oddly juxtaposing the arching motion of the visuals to the audio. The horse head was sculpted by Brandon for the album. It was originally intended to be the cover to the album. However, we fell in love with the simple starkness and strength of just text, all black and white. It becomes some strange focus for this searching world of “Differences In Electricities”.
The storyline plays with how images and realities set in stone can suddenly shift as easily as closing one eye, and then closing your other. Objects in far off distances shift more and more from one spot to another when you look from only the right eye, and then the left eye. Taking those simple ideas of perspectives, we then extrapolate on the concept. The protagonist is watching this surreal story take place, but every time he switches his visual eye, the reality shifts from seemingly everyday normal, into another, alternate and dark, reality. Four separate short stories mix into one with key objects reappearing across all the seemingly separate worlds: stuffed bunnies, eggs, horse head, lover. These stories are played by each member of Ghastly, as the singer, Brandon, is eerily watching from a far off, unconnected place. Ultimately, the motif plays with positives and negatives, lights and darks, reality and fantasy.
Tell me about the song. I hear r&b ghosts and darker New Romantic outliers such as The The.
We felt like the recording of this song reached the ultimate Ghastly balance, mixing in our influences of electronic dark dance music, ambiance, rap, and melodic rock. It combines the widest array of styles into a uniquely strong, fluidly flowing piece. It drifts in a world it’s own, we feel. That has been our goal since Ghastly began. We want to shift within many areas of art, hyper focusing moods and what they can spill from within, under the skin.
Ghastly City Sleep tour dates
17 Alphaville, Brooklyn, NY
19 Boot & Saddle, Philadelphia, PA
20 Hardywood, Richmond, VA
21 DC9, Washington, DC