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Surrender to Oxbow's Choppy New Film Noir Video for "Host"

The clip is taken from the experimental stalwarts' new album, 'Thin Black Duke,' and was directed by Chris Purdie.
Phil Sharp

On Thin Black Duke, their seventh album in a 30-year career, the gentlemen of Oxbow offer up some of their most elegantly crafted, if not outright refined, chaos. While we examined the album in full with our interview just a couple months ago, today we're honored to premier "Host," the third music video from this record. The video pairs well with the two others released earlier this year, serving as something of a thematic in-between in both sound and vision and it sees the band continuing their ongoing partnership with director Chris Purdie, who manages to present the band honestly without repeating the same set of visual ideas in his own art. Says Purdie, "…the idea came to dance around the visual themes of our last collaboration; a conceptual sequel if you will. While the film for'A Cold + Well Lit Place' was partly about the struggle to create art, the visuals for "Host" were about destroying it (or at least trying to). Listening to Oxbow, for me, is akin to being trapped inside of the grimiest crime novel ever written so the choice to present the video in monochrome, with the spliced footage of burning film (evidence?) was a deliberate nod to 40s film noir. From a filmmaking perspective, I find that it's important to present complex ideas within a recognizable framework which, incidentally, is how I would probably describe Oxbow." "Host" finds itself at the gray bottom, presenting a cut-up film noir juxtaposed with footage of Oxbow in their element onstage. Burning film and hazy smoke cuts in and out of the band exploding while the song itself flips like a coin deciding the fate of the listener. On heads, you've got subdued tension, space so empty yet so dense you can hear your own breath, and softly delivered vocals from guitarist Niko Wenner intimating "I know, I know" endlessly. On tails, the band snaps into shape with explosive art-rock stylings and frontman Eugene Robinson's trademark howling. The shifting and swirling of the video captures much of the feeling of the band's live show yet avoids falling into the pitfalls of typical stock concert footage. Oxbow is currently on a short tour of the Northeast (and will play Chicago'sScorched Tundrafestival come September. Dates are listed below, as is the video for "Host." Catch them live if they're in your neighborhood, and surrender.


July 14- Somerville, MA at ONCE Ballroom with Queen Elephantine, The Cancer Conspiracy, Chrome Over Brass
July 15 - Brooklyn, NY at Brooklyn Bazaar with Self Defense Family, Queen Elephantine
July 16 - Philadelphia, PA at Kung Fu Necktie with Queen Elephantine, Mob Terror
September 3 - Chicago, IL at Scorched Tundra

Ben Handelman is being an excellent host on Twitter.
Photo by Phil Sharp.