Witness: Radiohead. Their new video for the song "House of Cards", off of In Rainbows seems like nothing new for the band, at first. It's strange, it's different, it makes sense...for them, at least. What sets this apart from their other work however, is the fact that they don't use any conventional cameras in this video at all.
Lasers were used to graph out the images, and lay them out into the video format. The song, which describes the degeneration of the nuclear family as many perceive it, suburbia and society-at-large, is a favorite by many fans of the band's latest work, including one of our own authors at Animal Noises, Heath. I'll give him credit where credit is due here, as he pointed out the references to swingers- "throw your keys in the bowl/kiss your husband goodbye"- within a few days of us hearing the album. This lends to my being able to include that concept in this post now, so for that, I'll give him some props.
In this mini-cinematic adventure, the band actually plays on the words of the song (so rare nowadays), to form the images which the viewer sees before them. As mentioned, this song is about degeneration of various aspects of society, and the images stay true to this. At first just portraying someone singing (Thom Yorke), then gradually allowing the appearance of a suburban street. The street seems to melt away as gradually as it comes up though, as the lines which form its frame disintegrate into thin air. The images rise, and then fall more rapidly, as the video progresses, eventually leaving the suburb, and entering a city, in which we see the full scale of Radiohead's idea of degeneration in the song.
Soon after, we see what appears to be a bar/social setting, with people exchanging pleasantries and sharing drinks. Two characters, who seem to have been alluded to in the early goings of the video, are brought to the forefront (I'm guessing the woman is the "swinger" referenced in the lyrics), and they start to disintegrate, just as the lines forming the town and city had before. The last image shows a single house quickly forming, then being blown away, like dust in the wind, as expediently as it was erected. Alluding to the destruction of a specific household- the one of the swinger, I would imagine- as either the first or last step in the societal breakdown they describe in the song itself.
This is all opinion, of course, but due to Radiohead's penchant for discussing, or creating imagery of, a dystopian future (every album from OK Computer onward), and further supported by their commentaries on current society: i.e.- record label: _Xurbia_Xendless (referencing the endless urban-suburban sprawl which the entire western world functions within), we can say that this is more of an educated guess based upon previously recorded trends.
Of course, what's a Radiohead release without some sort of innovation? The band will also be releasing the data used to construct the video, so all of you do-it-yourselfers out there can have a blast manipulating the numerical sequences, and making your own "House of Cards" video. You all probably remember the frenzies that followed Decide your own price for In Rainbows and Here's all the parts of Nude, go make a remix, so chances are we're about to see a third wave of Radiohead customization-mania.
Just for fun, I've also got the "Making of House of Cards" video on here. Enjoy.