Video: A.R.C. Soundtracks – In Circular Ruins

Posted by on March 20, 2014

A robbery. A hand emerges. Shifting form, the spooky white fluidity suggests a body through different stages. A bundle. Bending forward. Dancing. The body is naked, and the body is an hourglass. This manipulated film shifts alongside A.R.C. Soundtracks’ latest, “In Circular Ruins,” taken from their Archive: Volume One LP on Little Crackd Rabbit. While the track maintains some of the darkness and sparse feel of the earlier cut, “The Road to the Camp,” the instrumental imprints are clean and direct. For the video, the group sets their surreal folk to hand-manipulated 16mm frames. That fluttering white body is eventually interrupted by sharp shreds of light, adding a visual climax to the song.

Straightforward vocals steal “In Circular Ruins,” as a down-trodden tale accompanies echoing piano and clean guitar tones. Even as the instruments swirl, adding a sliding guitar that emulates a lap steel, the vocal keeps its peace and place, treading forward. While A.R.C. Soundtracks continue their path into dark, droning psychedelic music, here they disguise these dark sounds in folk patterns. This ritual is lost, despairing country terrain as much as it is ambient, experimental pastures. The hint at a folk structure, or a country song, strengthens the ambiance.

Following the image of the dancer, the manipulated human form, the sharp exposure to light overtakes the song and the video. Each of the patterns suggested — a thief, a dancer, a hand — is shattered by these broken exposures, which jump across the screen. This climax moves beyond the song, for the whispered tale continues, unimpaired, trekking forward. Ultimately, the video serves as an allegory for the lyrics, leaving patterned sequences of the instruments as a somber foundation.