A scene from the Differentology video directed by Nigel Thompson

I know now that I'm not the only person to declare themselves disappointed with the Black Ice Studios video for Differentology, Bunji Garlin's defining song for Carnival 2013.
It isn't just that it looks so much like this old 3 Canal video for Mud Madness, it's that it aspires to become something as mighty and evocative as the song and fails so dramatically.

I kept looking at it and thinking that it looked like one of this dreadfully ordinary photographs that people think get ennobled by dramatic Instagram filters.
Of course, that might be because so much of the video is layered with pointless color grading and hokey directing decisions.

Even a potentially powerful shot, of Bunji staring square at the camera, intense despite the goofy helmet and the mud people suddenly appearing to spring out of his body like a kind of exploding centipede doesn't have the impact that it should. They kind of sputter out from behind him, unsure of where to go next.

It's kind of weird looking at it. All the elements to create a good video are there. A dramatic location, costumes from K2K and Tribe, people willing to wallow in mud and get buried in earth, an attractive local MMA fighter in a loin cloth, swords and axes and a blasted horse, for goodness' sake.
It's a grocer's list of funky stuff that seems to have gotten stuck in a bad episode of Will it blend only to defy the whirling blades of in Nigel Thompson's edit suite.

I don't have any illusions that a music video should make sense. I have no problem with warriors from two entirely different centuries clashing in battle (though they mostly circle each other, waving swords about). Nobody makes videos that make less linear sense than Tool and their work is consistently fascinating and involving. Nothing about this video is any of those things,
I'm a big fan of Bunji, writing one of the first major evaluations of him as an artist in 2000 when I became thoroughly smitten with his five releases that year.

His work with Nigel Rojas on Differentology wasn't particularly surprising to me, though it pleased me as much as it did everyone else. I'd seen this side of young Mr Alvarez ever since that break-out year in his dramatically under appreciated collaboration with Walker, Woman. That was the first time I'd heard rock merged with rapso and I really liked it even if virtually nobody noticed it in the year of Bad Man and Gimme the Brass.

I submit that the backlash, growing quietly by the second, apparently, against the Differentology video isn't that it's a bad video, it's that it's the wrong class of video entirely for the song. For virtually any other song this season, the video would actually be just fine, maybe even a little ambitious. But Differentology demands the absolute best we have to offer in visuals, because for most of us who loved the song, it stirred our jaded souls and encouraged the very best in us.
Far from different, it's just too damned ordinary and that probably what grates on our collective nerve.
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