Out of Focus: Zettajoule, BLXPLTN and More

by Nick Hanover

Out of Focus

There are a lot of videos coming out of Austin these days, so we’ve decided to make life easier for you by compiling some of the most notable into a recurring feature called Out of Focus

Marrshun “Prayer Hands”

Like a flying saucer on a country road, Marrshun appeared in my life without warning and has refused to leave my head ever since. The young artist, who is now apparently based out of Austin after being in New York, combines NYC performance art flair with Afropunk boldness and hip hop production. As his new video “Prayer Hands” with its Brady Bunch parodying concept “The Blacks” shows, Marrshun has a savage yet playful wit, capable of drawing laughs out of you before you realize you’re directly in the crosshairs of the jokes. The mysterious Mr B directs the video like it’s a VHS bootleg but the main attraction is Marrshun’s uncanny ability to inhabit each stereotype skewering character, in appropriation flipping whiteface no less. The song’s production might lean ho99o9 but between the costuming and the concept, Marrshun is more like the missing link between Saul Williams and Boots Riley. And I have faith Marrshun is destined for similar greatness as those two icons.

Zettajoule “No Thank You”

With their new Human League-like sound, it makes perfect sense that Zettajoule would channel the look and feel of early ’80s MTV for their video “No Thank You.” Coated in a filter that replicates the look of degraded videotape and comprised of dream-like images in between shots of the band, “No Thank You” feels like a surreal memory of something you saw decades ago and have struggled to remember clearly ever since. It’s less of a throwback than it is an exploration of nostalgia and memory and how untrustworthy they are.

BLXPLTN “No English”

BLXPLTN’s anti-colonizer anthem “No English” is a simple but striking video, featuring the band silhouetted by headlights on their ranch before being chased through the woods by an ICE agent. The track itself is a relative departure for the group, bringing together punk drumming and sludge rock riffs to back up TasZ‘s shouted rundown of the fascist rhetoric hurled his way over the years. But at the midway point it builds to a synth heavy instrumental freakout complemented by seismic camera moves, nodding to a more classic BLXPLTN sound before returning to the fuzzy “they told me in English!” call and response to close things out.

BLXPLTN play Stubb’s HAAM benefit on November 28th

Single Lash “Broken Tongue”

If you’ve ever longed for a My Bloody Valentine cover band fronted by a borderline comatose Robert Smith, then Single Lash are for you. The recent Holodeck signees have all the charisma of a mausoleum (and not the haunted kind either) but Holodeck is doing what they can to make people excited for the group, including putting frequent Troller collaborator Melissa Cha behind the camera for their “Broken Tongue” video. In it, our zombie Robert Smith frontman wanders through an urban space that fits his style perfectly in its bland anonymity. Some lace drabbed figures dance in the shadows and some dissolves merge the concrete background into a saturated kaleidoscope of waste. It’s nearly seven minutes of shadows and caterwauling in service of a group who mostly exist to prove that even the most consistent of tastemaking labels occasionally slip up.

Single Lash play Kinda Tropical this Saturday, November 10th as part of the East Austin Studio Tour

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Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at  Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover