Squarepusher's latest track "Stor Eiglass" from his Damogen Furies album (Warp) has a virtual reality music video, which you can experience with a Samsung Gear VR headset, Google Cardboard, on phones and tablets, and in YouTube's 360º platform (embedded above). The fuller the immersion the better.
A collaboration between artists Marshmallow Laser Feast, animators Blue Zoo, and illustrator Rob Pybus, the video itself is a candy-colored jaunt where you get to glance around a 3D world as your travel through it. In a meta-narrative about VR, it starts off in a multi-colored utopia where people do star jumps in public, before we journey into a gloomy future where everyone's hooked on headsets, bodies spasming to the stimulus of a virtual world.
Along the way, if you look directly downwards at your own figure, you'll notice the protagonist turning from a hardbody into a breasted blob as he trades exercise for the blue pill. The psychedelic journey takes you through all kinds of bizarre landscapes, from shamanic dancing in the desert with laser-eyed stone sculptures to a squalid bedsit.
"The inspiration for the project came from an in-depth chat between ourselves, Rob Pybus and Tom Jenkinson (Squarepusher)," explains Marshmallow Laser Feast's Robin McNicholas. "His new album both celebrates and exposes the ludicrousness of the modern electronic music scene and we saw parallels with the emerging VR scene. So we wanted to create a journey that had a story embedded in it which reflected that."
The project started with Rob Pybus' hand-drawn illustrations, which first had to be translated into a 3D world, and then a 360-degree environment. "We wanted to make sure we retained the richness of Rob's illustrations," Tom Box from Blue Zoo tells The Creators Project, "So very early on in the project he storyboarded the entire journey, and created colour keys of core parts. We worked from these to build the world in 3D, which Rob then digitally painted artwork to map onto the environment. So it was a very iterative collaboration between our 3D team and Rob."
The result is an amusing, if not hallucinogenic, experience, a kind of cartoon vision quest, and a little peek into what the future holds for VR and the music video medium. It follows the thread of Bjork's VR music video experimentation earlier in the year with "Stonemilker," but where with Bjork you had to go to a museum or record store to experience it, this one is more immediately accessible.
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