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C.D. On Videos: Secret Satellites – "Abandoned Property"

August 31, 2011

OK, so you wanna know about a show? How about a free show? And even better – it’s tonight! Head over to the Milky Way tonight to catch a super-sweet acoustic set from Jessica Sun Lee of Secret Satellites. Man, I hope the doorman doesn’t have a lisp. Anyway! Sun Effing Lee will be performing two short sets, and since she’s there, you know they have pizza. This woman loves pizza. And she’s such a talent, I bet the pizza loves her right back. So go, take in some acoustic sounds and pizza. 

Abandoned Property by Secret Satellites from Secret Satellites on Vimeo.

There is nothing in the world like super-slo-mo. And I have to think the reason that super-slo-mo was invented was to show the world awesome, clear shots of stuff getting destroyed. I don’t know about you, but the high-speed camera is one of the best parts of Mythbusters to me. What’s better than firing a shotgun at a wineglass? Firing a shotgun at a wineglass – in super-slo-mo. Secret Satellites seem to share the same proclivities, as their video for “Abandoned Property” is chock full of things being crushed, blasted or otherwise obliviated in slow motion. And it’s awesome.

Now when it turns green, does that mean it’s gone
bad? Or in the case of Miller High Life, it’s gone good?

Created over the course of two weeks on a $7 budget by Secret Satellites drummer/video director Jeff Clarke, “Abandoned Property” is a video based upon hitting things – and breaking them. So yes, you can tell it was directed by a drummer (I keed, I keed!). The thing about this video is that it established this motif fairly quickly and gets us on board with a few superb demolitions. The destruction in the video is liable to whip you up into a Beavis-esque frenzy, to the point where you find yourself shouting “Break it! Break it! Yeaaaaah!” – especially when they start toying with us around the :40 mark, showing a tantalizing (in the context of this video) slowly spinning light bulb.

Smashing stuff in slow-motion isn’t this video’s only trick, however. The destruction footage is interspersed with some weird filter-work and odd aspect-ratio tricks. The former is an interesting study in objects, showing everyday objects through crazy video filters that posterize, highlight edges, and make otherwise normal things appear to be very abnormal. They even shoot a cop car (with the camera, you thugs), playing with the high context of its palate and thusly blowing the mind of that cop that ate the weed brownies that time. God, I hope he sees this.

“No Officer sir, nothing suspicious going on here. I definitely do
not have a vocalist in the trunk.”

The aspect-changes are a novel video technique – black mattes close in on various “focus objects” in shots – like the aforementioned police car around 1:20 of the video. In a world where we are used to fixed aspect ratios and things being formatted to fit your screen, this video’s willingness to format your screen on the fly to fit its message is a bold and effective visual statement.

There’s also some performance footage in this video; partly slow-motion drum-porn (“Man… watch this cymbal like, VIBRATE…man…”) and some high speed bass playing. There is also what seems to be flickery kidnap footage of singer/bassist/superstar Jessica Sun Lee that appears to be shot in a car trunk. Lee gazes into the tight-angle camera as if she is singing not to us, but into us. We either feel spellbound or ready to send the ransom money to secure her release. Actually, a little bit both, to be honest. The cuts and the editing in this video are tight and flawless, matching on-screen crashing with soundtrack crashing.

In the late Summer of 2011, two local musicians went off
into a desolate place like Jamaica Plain to shoot a music video.
One day later, their footage was found and posted on

The band’s adherence to performance – while staying within the visual motif of the video, helps push “Abandoned Property” over the edge of “we made a video because we were bored” into the world of “we made a video because we had something more to do.” The video, in this case, is the hook of an already-hooked song, and the dynamic range of shots and visuals makes it so.

This video’s playful attitude towards the “breaking stuff” genre is to be commended – it avoids the super-obvious temptation to run the footage backwards, and it draws us in with the temptation. Whether it’s Sun Lee’s burning eyes or the slowly-spinning-just-waiting-to-be-smashed delicate objects, this video manacles the attention, and will not let you out of that trunk until your loved ones pay up. So pony up, loved ones!
Want to submit your band’s song to C.D. On Songs?
To be reviewed in a C.D. On Songs column, please:
*Be a Boston-based band/artist.
*Email a single mp3/m4a/etc. (or a download link to one) to cdonsongs (at) gmail (dot) com, with the subject line “C.D. on Songs” (DO NOT send us a bunch of songs and make us pick, we will ignore you). We require a file – not a streaming link.
*Include album cover art if you have any. If you don’t, a band photo or logo is acceptable.
*Tell us when you want to see it! Give us the date of your show and we’ll make sure it runs as close as possible to that day. No kidding.

We will assume that we have your permission to make the song downloadable on Boston Band Crush (readers will want to hear it, after all). If that’s not ok with you, say so and provide us with a link to the song on an embeddable player like ReverbNation – something we can include in the post (and not just link to).

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