Warning: you can never un-see them.
Montreal is responsible for some impressive musical exports. Grimes and Mac Demarco lived there for a large part of their careers, along with acts like TOPS, Sean Nicholas Savage, Braids and Blue Hawaii, and Arbutus Records operates out of the city.
Aside from generating breakthrough acts though, the city’s music scene seems to have acted as a melting pot for off-kilter humour and uninhibited experimentation. Mac Demarco and associated acts like Walter TV and Alex Calder might exemplify this the most and, outside of making legitimately good music, have always approached their careers as platforms for first rate mischief and piss-taking.
Enter Cole Kush- the mysterious film-maker and animator behind some of the strangest and funniest videos put out by these bands. His web presence is fairly enigmatic and sparse on details, so we’re not sure where he’s based or if Cole Kush is actually his real name. All we know is that now we’ve seen his videos, we can’t look away. Here are five of his best:
Here Kush maps his friends faces onto Sims-like characters. While Walter TV’s line-up is a little different these days, this video features eerily accurate renderings of Mac Demarco, Pierce McGarry, Joe McMurray, Peter Sagar and Alex Calder (who we’re pretty sure was never in the band anyway). All five stare out of the screen with inane, rictus grins and move woodenly around their trippy virtual surroundings.
“I’M COMPLETELY SOAKED” declares Mac via subtitles, as he sits in a hot tub with his bandmates. “[LAUGHTER]” ensues among them as their heads jerk around maniacally and our nightmares acquire fresh source material.
Full disclosure- we’re not sure if this one counts as a proper music video or an album trailer. Either way though, the track is Moving Slow by Mold Boy (Alex Calder’s alter ego) and features a curious man-rat hybrid walking through some hallways wearing nothing but a peace-sign pendant and a baseball cap. Other highlights include the use of gross typography à la dafont.com and a stirring cameo from Alex himself.
Alex Calder gracelessly rollerskates down the street in slow motion, the wind blowing through his hair, a smile playing on his face. The shot cuts. His shirt is now off. He sits down on a bench, smiling, guitar around his neck and roller-skates still on his feet. He mimes along to the words poorly, as close up footage of tambourines being shaken and keyboards being played are haphazardly cut in.
Elsewhere, Mike Sniper, head of Captured Tracks sits slumped at his desk, his face resting in his hands as he wearily approves Alex’s latest official video.
Here Walter TV’s avatars workout in the gym (expect full frontal CGI male nudity), get hit by an explosion, speak to each other in Wingdings, and enter a new dimension where they have no skin. Once again, sleep suddenly feels like a daunting prospect.
Full-sized and miniature identical twins in medieval attire. A man with X-ray wraparound shades leering at an anthropomorphised rat-woman. A giant isopod wearing a Monster Energy cap. A chrome rat-man smoking a shisha pipe.
This video might take the prize for Kush’s most unsettling effort yet. An opus of skin-crawling grossness entwined with otherworldly charm, it’s as hard to tear our eyes away from as it is to forget. 10/10.