“Each song is like a reunion, a crossroads.” – The Blaze
Body language that oozes intimacy and confidence. A duality of strength and vulnerability reflected through male relationships. An innate sense of place. Uninhibited expression of self among family. Youthful zeal and arrogance. Pride found in one’s tribe and the paradoxical feelings that surface with leaving and protecting your home.
All this is communicated in just 22 shots throughout French producer/director duo The Blaze’s latest music video “Territory”. There’s so much emotion distilled into a five-minute timespan that by the end you’ll probably find yourself longing for more.
It’s not often that I’m completely mesmerized by one of the first shots of a music video. Usually, I’m pleasantly surprised or at least intrigued enough to continue watching. That’s not the case with “Territory”. I remember hitting play, leisurely full-screening the thing, and then slowly narrowing my eyes at the visage of a man desperately and believably trying to hold back his tears.
Even more touching is the fact that the shot lingers on him as he breaks into tears and is embraced by a family member; it stays on him for a full 30 seconds. How often do we see that these days, especially in western culture? There’s a wonderful anticipation and payoff as we’re allowed to go through the same emotional catharsis as the protagonist as he reunites with his family. As I watched, it almost felt like I was intruding on a private event because it felt so personal – like a thoughtful gift I didn’t deserve. The narrative continues to deliver these moments, all magically intimate in their own way.
Filmed in Algiers, the music throughout the video weaves in and out of the world, sometimes mimicking a diegetic soundscape, which is a testament to cousins Jonathan and Guillaume Alric’s ability to fuse cinema with the music they produce. Take for instance the reverbed strings that echo like a clock as family members all sleep in the same room, or the stabs of synth percussion that materialize with choreographed boxing lessons given to a colorfully backlit crowd of onlookers.
It’s no surprise that Jonathan Alric is repped by Iconoclast, the same creative agency who represents Romain Gavras who directed the impeccable last video for Jamie xx’s “Gosh”. Upon the release of “Territory”, Gavras tweeted, “…my favorite video of 2017 so far!”
The Blaze’s new EP Territory is out now via Animal63. In an interview with Fader, the duo talked more about their family and process: “We also made one of the tracks in our grandfather’s place, in the south of France. We stayed with him like a week. Each song is like a reunion, a crossroads.”