BRYAN BELLER (bassist for The Aristocrats, Joe Satriani, Dethklok) has released a new music video for two songs – ‘A Quickening’ and ‘Steiner In Ellipses’ – from his critically acclaimed 2019 progressive double concept album, Scenes From The Flood.
Playing five characters (including himself), and featuring special guests Gene Hoglan, Mike Keneally, Rick Musallam and Kyle Hughes, watch the ‘A Quickening’ / ‘Steiner In Ellipses’ video here:
Tackling the challenge of creating a unique home-shot video during months of tour-less semi-quarantine, BELLER’s hyper-paced, withering satire tells the story of four characters with musical dreams – a nerdy accountant, a hipster douchebag, a cross-dressing keyboardist, and an aging rocker, all played by BELLER himself – grappling with creating content and the drive-by commentary of social media, all in an age of ever-increasing isolation and primarily digital existence.
“When COVID hit, at first, I really had no idea what to do creatively,” says BELLER, social distancing from the city in his remote north Los Angeles County residence. “It was all such a shock, the sudden cancellation of everything, everyone stuck at home. So I thought, I’ll just wait and observe. Lots and lots of screen time, you know? And then I realized – as musicians, creators, and just as people, we’re all doing the same thing, aren’t we? So let’s tell a story about what humans try and do with that.”
The result is a frenetic and radical deconstruction of a typical play-through video. BELLER’s four characters play their parts in earnest as a critical chorus of social media commentary appears on-screen with near machine-gun frequency. Eventually the accountant, the hipster, the cross-dresser and the rocker all check their own social media accounts and read the comments, to their abject horror. The second half of the video then takes a hard metal turn before a plot twist brings the characters together for the grand finale…or does it?
“It occurred to me that we could create a phenomenon where the viewer, in real life, is watching this video, probably on a social media platform with the ability to comment, about characters performing and posting on a social media platform while people comment about them, and then they log on to their own social media accounts and read those typically horrible comments about themselves,” says BELLER. “It’s pretty world-inside-a-world meta, and more than a little absurd. But that’s where we are these days, aren’t we? All of us, spending too much time inside in front of a screen, doomscrolling and re-examining our lives? I figured, let’s at least have a little fun taking the piss out of all of it. And let’s make the video really fast, really crazy, really over the top and totally in your face.”
For that mission, BELLER turned to video editor ZZ Satriani (son of guitarist Joe Satriani, and editor/director of Satch’s 2016 tour documentary Beyond The Supernova). “I’m 49 years old, and ZZ is 28. The millennial take on video pacing is just completely different than your typical Gen X’er who grew up on old school MTV videos. It’s just so much faster, so much more dense, and I felt this video really needed that. I’d actually been a fan of ZZ’s work for a while. He really got the vibe I was trying to convey.”
The two short, up-tempo songs in segue succession – the breakbeat drum-and-bass-flavoured ‘A Quickening,’ and the throwback thrash metal anthem ‘Steiner In Ellipses’ – proved to be the right tunes for BELLER to exemplify the concept. The actual musicians who played on the album tracks – legendary metal drummer Gene Hoglan (Death, Testament, Strapping Young Lad); eclectic genius guitarist/composer Mike Keneally (Frank Zappa, Joe Satriani), and L.A. session specialist Rick Musallam (Ben Taylor, Carly Simon) – show up in the video as well, playing straight men to BELLER’s esoteric ensemble cast. Additionally, British drummer Kyle Hughes (Bumblefoot, Marco Mendoza) contributes a new drum track layer on top of ‘A Quickening’ that isn’t present on the album version, creating a new arrangement of the song specific to this video.
“In the story of Scenes From The Flood, ’A Quickening’ is about the acceleration of our culture from the social media instant-feedback loop, and ‘Steiner in Ellipses’ is about a powerful force that presents as benevolent, but might be malevolent. Musically they’re two different worlds, but conceptually they’re very connected. They both move really fast, and they eventually build to this dizzying finale. It felt like the correct musical canvas to try something bizarre and left field like this. Hopefully people will get a laugh out of it, and then maybe think a little bit about where we are, how we got here, and where this all leads.”
Scenes From The Flood is out now, stream and purchase here: http://bryanbeller.com
Scenes From The Flood (2019):
A work so sweeping in scale that it took BELLER nearly a decade to conceive, compose, and now fully realise, Scenes From The Flood asks an existential question: When the storm comes for us, the big one after which things will not be the same, who are we and what do we become in those defining moments? What do we keep, and what do we let go? Scenes From The Flood features 26 world class musicians including Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, Guthrie Govan, Gene Hoglan, Mike Keneally, and Mike Dawes, explores themes of ambition and loss, intentionality and reality, hope and disillusionment, and uses every second of its 18-song, 88-minute running order to tell an emotionally consuming and unforgettable musical story.