The title of the KRAS video ‘Coloured Lights’ is warmly inviting, suggesting an optimistic pop banger. Instead, you are given a much more discomforting, and ultimately rewarding experience, in the debut music video by the Cape Town based duo. Over a pulverizing synthesizer and vocals distorted to epic levels, a disturbingly masked figure twists and cavorts through abandoned nocturnal city streets. As the song builds to a relentless climax, it intercuts between shots of other faceless people engaged in some unnameable occult ritual and beautiful black and white ocean shots, with the same masked figure emerging like some toxic Venus from the sea spray.
This stunning combination of sonics and visuals is the work of partners Brandon and Duncan, whose vision for KRAS is to release songs with beautifully curated accompanying videos, each new work bringing in other producers and filmmakers to collaborate. In this case, the pummelling imagery was filmed by Lauren Rose with elegant outfits designed by Tzvi Karp.
As Brandon told me via email, the group wants to avoid making work that is too obvious, preferring to let the audience read their own experiences into their creations. But he did note that the haunted, occultist vibe of the piece came from its initial inspiration in a documentary about the nefarious doings of the Church of Scientology cult. The visuals speak of a world hidden under the harsh light of day, of alien beings and warped spaces flourishing in the dead of night. Its darkly hallucinatory images remind me of David Lynch’s work, in how it rips an uncanny surrealism from seemingly mundane settings.
The video also speaks to the idea of a personal struggle and the battle against one’s own mental demons. For Brandon, this gave the work a hopeful core, despite its sinister imagery- “We went to Bakoven at 10 in the evening (it was winter at the time) to film the ocean scene. I must be honest, I didn’t feel any cold when filming that scene. I think once I put the mask on and become the alien like character, my body became numb and all that mattered was getting the most perfect and beautiful shot.’’
With this perspective, the alien figure emerging from the waves becomes an image of transformation, fighting through the dark sea of emotional turmoil into a strange and beautiful new reality.