Thursday, 13 February 2014

PV Analysis: Sukekiyo "Aftermath"

Founded by vocalist Kyo of Dir en Grey, Sukekiyo is comprised of Takumi (guitar, formerly of Renter en Soi), Uta (guitar, formerly of 9Goats Black Out), Yuchi (bass, of kannivalism) and Mika (drums, formerly of Renter en Soi). The PV for Aftermath provides provocative accompaniment to the single, incorporating traditional Japanese imagery in a dreamlike setting. The song reflects a mature tone that shows the collective experience of the members. In order to analyze the clip more effectively, I've consulted an unofficial fan translation to correlate lyrics to the scenes.

We see outdoor scenes, and a silhouetted figure inside a dwelling moving oddly. A succession of rapid cuts shows a crowd of dolls, and there are hints of a woman ensnared in an array of red rope, as though caught in a web. The method of tying is kinbaku, also known as shibari in the west. Dating back to the late Edo period, this erotic artform creates a submissive display of the beauty of the female form. The lyric 'getting used to countless lies from a simple god' puts an air of resignation on her bondage here. Another woman is seen walking outdoors in modern dress, and the shot zooms to her eye casting a dreamlike aspect on the piece.

As we first see the band play, an unfamiliar keyed instrument featuring a string/bow aspect like a violin drew my attention - searching by description finds a taishōgoto, originating in early 20th century Japan. Part of the web is depicted above the group, and the scene cuts back to the tied woman, revealing more of her naked form. The silhouetted figure seen earlier is revealed in full as a woman with light hair, wearing a kimono and noh mask. She performs a ritualized dance and the mask on her face is black, though a female mask in white appears to be a headpiece. As darkly colored noh masks colors generally represent deities or spirits I take her appearance to be otherworldly. The two-faced aspect represents some duality on her part, perhaps deception on top of her disguise, or across the past and present.

Following a build of dissonance at the midpoint, we see the band now framed to show the woman bound among them. The repeated lyric 'do not forget' and the reveal here place her as the cause of the titular aftermath, as her clear proximity to the the musicians draws her closer to the central sentiment of the song. That she's bound with red rope calls to mind the 'red string of fate', that which binds the destiny of people
together in Asian folklore. The array that she's bound in an might imply involvement with many others, or perhaps alternate paths of possibility.

The view cuts back to the masked woman, who's clearly not the past self of the one bound overhead as there's no resemblance in their features. There are also drops landing in black and white - the source is unclear. From the exertion of the ropes on the 'victim' they could be taken as tears coming from the tied woman, except that she's not crying. Some of the darker drops could be taken as blood, which might cast the rope's color as a network of veins. However, her stoic nature coupled with the lyrical reference to crying strongly implies these would are the tears of the singer. There is a shot of the masked woman disintegrating, though a subsequent image of her partially unmasking renders her destruction symbolic. As the clip ends we pull back from eye of the woman as seen at the start, apparently the masked woman in her own dream, or perhaps some distant memory.

As a first effort from a group of veteran players, the track has a suitably haunting melody and the clip is beautifully shot. Evoking a strong sense of nostalgia set against a stark modern backdrop, there's a slight narrative that captures the sentiment of the song and leaves the listener wanting more. Sukekiyo will surely treat the world to more beautiful mysteries like this as they proceed.

By Josh Campbell