In 2009, Kranky churned out The Floodlight Collective and introduced the world to Lotus Plaza, an outlet for the back-brain workings of notoriously quiet Deerhunter guitarist Lockett Pundt. The solo record, named after a high school collaboration with long-time best friend Bradford Cox, satisfied a curious itch for the shoegaze-y sound. For fans of dreamy fuzz, the record was a long-winded treat with ample room for growth and the chance to poke around Pundt’s private, muddy psyche.
This year’s Spooky Action at a Distance out-pedals and excels past its predecessor by way of direct craftsmanship. Lotus Plaza is Pundt’s “side project,” yes, but this record makes it clear that an opportunity to stretch one’s legs does not have to serve as a sloppy workout. The album is paced and arranged beautifully, each melody off-balance with particularity and passion that cements Pundt’s ass straight to the king’s throne of radical guitar pop. Unlike the debut album, Spooky Action gives us the opportunity to hear the outward boundaries of his vocal abilities with the utmost clarity, crooning with the very same voice that makes some of Deerhunter’s best tracks utterly fantastic. Picking a favorite off Spooky Action at a Distance is hard: each loopy tune individually whispers the secrets that surround the artist’s penchant for patterns and form, gaining strength over time. It’s crystal clear, genuine and breathes with ease.
“Black Buzz,” the album’s stripped-down grand finale, steps away from distortion in order to lament repetitive, destructive behaviors. Deemed “the best song I’ve ever written” by the author himself in an interview with the Village Voice, Pundt claims, “the synths at the end of “Black Buzz” act as one [a bridge] for what I want to do next with music.”
The video for the track has no guilt in lifting inspiration off the author’s lines. Visualization gives solid backing to Lockett Pundt’s frustrations, sadness, confidence, and (aside from a powder-induced nosebleed) provides the story’s heroine a clean slate to try again, without the glossy eyes this time. Directed by John David Heeg of the Los Angeles-based filmmaking team nautico (with co-direction from Chris Westlund and Rob Nyerges), the concept behind the “Black Buzz” music video pulled directly from the song’s words, Heeg’s personal experiences and the writings of troubled VICE journalist, Cat Marnell.
Introduced immediately to a blonde babe spacing out between the city skyline and a television’s snort-happy messages, her rock-bottom day, week, year is right here, right now, and all we can do is watch. Between pill and booze bottles, enough cigarette butts to suffocate through your screen and some guy (Ariel Pink, actually) passed out on a couch, the portrayed scene is cruel, if familiar.
“Reading her [Marnell]’s articles- a column named ‘Amphetamine Logic’– I felt for her, hard, and I think it’s because I saw some of myself there. It’s an unflinchingly honest series about being a pill-head speed addict train wreck,” Heeg explains, “she talks about how others tell her that she needs nature, that she hasn’t seen the ocean in seven years… I wanted to finish the story I felt like she couldn’t. Pundt’s words are just right there, spot on with how the ugly shit feels. I wanted to give the chance to wash the ugly parts of this world off in the ocean, a place where I have connected with myself and found comfort.”
This particular instance of ugly, “Black Buzz”-ed reality (“Asleep in your clothes / alone in your bed”) gives way to revitalization and rebirth at the wet hands of the Pacific. The story ends optimistically sun-soaked and stark white, but not before our Marnell-inspired heroine writhes with discomfort, flinches atop projector screens of pain. nautico’s visualization, acute and aware of it’s potential, embraces the opportunity to convey the trauma Pundt so eloquently describes. The videography is executed as thoughtfully the artist’s scooping sound and–much like their video for CANT’s “She Found A Way Out,”— aesthetically hip, relevant.
Under four minutes long, consider a lesson in reclaiming power after sauntering in bottomless grit a personal invitation to a Pundt’s shy world, a glimpse at what one facet of his spooky thoughts looks like.
This was written by Allison Maloney on a 1999 Gateway tablet equipped with Internet Explorer. She is no longer breathing, ending her life after becoming so frustrated.