WARNING: The video above contains graphic images some may find disturbing.NON Records, an experimental collective of artists from Africa and the African diaspora, has released their first film, and it's a deeply disturbing, gruesome, and powerful viewing. Considering their track record of thought-provoking and challenging sound, text, and video, the ambition and intensity on display here comes as no surprise.
The 15-minutes piece was created by NON co-founder Chino Amobi, and also features work from Houston producer Rabit and Virginia producer NOL★NDM★N (as in "No Land Man"). Its soundtrack is made up of three songs: a collaborative track with Rabit called "BURNING TOWER" as well as NOL★NDM★N's tracks, "BURNING TOWER II" and "III."The film is built around footage of American soldiers shooting and killing unnamed people in a desert, first with machine guns from a helicopter and then using what appear to be drone airstrikes. Alongside the clips is audio featuring the real-time verbal communications between the group of soldiers. The first clip in the film is ripped from a YouTube user's video of Apache helicopters allegedly bombing a Taliban platoon. We cannot confirm that this is an accurate description of the footage, however, because the user has not provided evidence for their claim.At a comparable volume level to the soldiers' chatter and jokes is an added layer of audio: a monologue blending autobiographical narrative with philosophical consideration. The speaker touches on a range of subjects ranging from humanity and race to language and power. At one point, he says, "The Aryan archetype, stifling the light, thief of thing tongue, saboteur of dreams they bar with pipe"; a little later on, he offers, "Man will find light amongst the stars, but in a way and form he does not expect".Actual music only comes in for the last few minutes, and it's a shock when it does. It's made up of a lurching barrage of industrial pounding, an ominous organ figure, what sounds like gunfire, and distant screaming.The video's YouTube description features even more food for thought: selections from five texts published by the Situationist International, a radical art and politics collective from the twentieth century, on subjects like slang, habit, and the economy.There's a lot to take in, but it's well worth it—check out the video above.Follow Alexander on Twitter.