The artist Will Benedict has worked on multiple projects with the American noise band Wolf Eyes, highlights of which include a music video that featured Charlie Rose interviewing an alien and a documentary about global food distribution called Toilets Not Temples, for which Wolf Eyes provided the score. Benedict’s newest collaboration with the band is a video for the song “Enemy Ladder,” which originally appeared on the group’s 2015 album I Am a Problem: Mind in Pieces, released on Jack White’s label Third Man Records.
In the video, Benedict—whose previous clip for Wolf Eyes was included in the 2016 Berlin Biennale—collages together a mix of cute/terrifying dog videos and dystopian police-state scenarios. “There is a pleasant balance of confusion here: the SWAT team, the napping child,” Wolf Eyes member Nate Young told ARTnews. “All this helps me cope with the song’s somewhat violent descent into ‘trip metal’ depths.”
The result is a video that feels bleakly of our times. The music is tethered to an American underground continuum, but the visuals seem to point to a more contemporary and sometimes scary internet-based counterculture. In an email, Benedict obliquely mused that “dreads aren’t the cause and flossing gold isn’t the fall even though Trump is making me walk backwards, which is the only good thing I can say about him. Painfully zen.”
As for the music, “Enemy Ladder” was the first Wolf Eyes song conceptualized in what Young called “a literal ‘trip metal’ style.” With “trip metal,” Young referred to a sort of abstract genre marker that Wolf Eyes conceived in 2013 as respite from the increasingly narrowcasted noise-music communities that the group has moved in for decades. “We always say trip metal uses confusion as a means for connection rather than [as] a threat to authenticity.” Young also noted that the song was influenced by Conrad Schnitzler’s work with the Norwegian black-metal band Mayhem and also that the band’s guitar player James Baljo was on LSD while recording it. To see the broader trip metal ethos in action, one only needs to take a look at the Wolf Eyes Instagram page, which is an over-the-top flurry of memes and band-related content.
“Every video Will has made for us is tied together somehow,” Young said—adding that Benedict “always seems to understand what we are saying, even when we are intentionally saying nothing or just joking around.”
Young and Benedict are currently hard at work on a cooking show called The Restaurant which will exist as a part of a larger exhibition at the De Young Museum in San Francisco organized by Dis Magazine. It opens in November.
Watch the video for “Enemy Ladder” now!