Dueling Music Videos: RM486 vs. Übermorgen

     |    Sunday September 27th, 2015  |     3

Perusing Social Media this weekend yielded two clips for electronica acts that deal with identity, gender and the pleasure of mise-en-scène.

Rose McGowan, actress (“Grindhouse: Planet Terror”, “Scream”, “The Doom Generation”) director and vocal critic of gender inequality in Hollywood (bless ‘er), is consolidating the music career she has been pursuing as a sideline with a full-fledged solo single, “RM486”. The video was directed by Jonas Akerlund, who helmed similarly bold videos for Madonna (“Music”, “the Koyaanisqatsi-homage “Ray of Light” and “American Life”, which was pulled by the singer shortly after release because of its unsubtle and scathing references to the Iraq War), Lady Gaga (“Paparazzi” and the miniature crime drama-cum-buddyette movie “Telephone”, co-starring none other than Beyoncé) and The Prodigy (the pioneering and controversial first person POV tour of a night of drugs and debauchery – this video was probably still  flickering in a neuron somewhere in Gaspar Noé’s brain when he planned out the opening of “Enter the Void”).

“RM486” is reminiscent of Björk and Gaga in McGowan’s willingness to radically shapeshift – albeit in a very aesthetically pleasing way, like an edgy fashion shoot. Feminist statement? Not sure yet, maybe clearer after repeated viewing. Sophisticated eye candy? You betcha!

Berlin-based synthesizerist-singer-songwriter Barbara Morgenstern has released her latest album, a series of collaborations with T.Raumschmiere, Hauschka, Gudrun Gut, Justus Köhncke, Corey Dargel, Lucrecia Dalt, Julia Kent, Coppé, Tonia Reeh, Richard Davis and Jacaszek. Her duet with Köhncke, “Übermorgen” is accompanied by a clip directed by Branka Prlic and shot by Tamer Yigit (who is also the leader of death metal bands Hasrot and Devil Inside. As Fidan Film, the duo has made a name for itself with genre-straddling, cliché defying, proudly independent film and theater projects such as the play “Nachthexe” (performed at Berlin’s prestiguous Hebbel am Ufer theater) and the generational and culture clash drama “Karaman” (Berlinale 2012), set in Turkey from which Yigit’s parents hail.

“Übermorgen” playfully subverts gender roles with the simple, but effective trick of Köhncke lip-synching to Morgenstern’s vocals and vice versa. The clip makes gorgeous use of Berlin’s landmark House of World Cultures exhibition space and its retrofuturist circular lights and concrete columns. Morgenstern is all knowing looks and enigmatic smiles, but it’s Köhncke who delivers a tour de force performance with minimal means – his steely blue eyes speak volumes – whether expressing longing or joy.

And the winner is… no contest, really, both clips are very intriguing, stylish and well-made. Maybe extra points to “Übermorgen” for creating such a classy video with a fraction of “RM486″‘s budget.