Fierce, intelligent, and with an almost intimidating presence tempered by an uncommon beauty, Amanda Palmer has continuously, powerfully voiced our fear, anger and paranoia when we were often most at a loss for how to express it ourselves. Consider her previous single, “Voicemail for Jill,” in which she so viscerally articulates the isolation of abortion at a time when others see fit to merely exploit it.
Her latest, “Drowning In The Sound” – which sounds like “Hounds of Love” achieved cultural detente with “Bennie & the Jets” – relies more openly on metaphor. Though the message is still very clear: as the planet races towards certain oblivion, an alienated global populace falls paralyzed and overpowered, unable to muster any plan for reversing the madness.
“The media’s not fake / It’s just very inconvenient,” Palmer lyrically admonishes…and she couldn’t be more dead on. But creating a fitting visual companion to the song’s thematic urgency proved a particular challenge.
As she puts it, “The overwhelming news about climate change, the politics of a woke and devastated internet, the isolation that everybody is feeling right now…how do you make a music video about that?”
But as usual, she decisively answers her own question, with the fantastical new Michael Pope directed video for the “Drowning In The Sound.” She and he share a 15-year creative partnership that goes back to the Dresden Dolls classic “Girl Anachronism”; and here, they endeavor a deconstructionist take on modern ballet to exceedingly dramatic effect. With it, they somehow manage to convey all the anxiety of environmental apocalypse, as well as the puissant primacy of motherhood, with an astonishing seamlessness.
“We’ve always bitten off more than we could chew,” she rightly boasts, “and this video was no exception. The set itself was a healing space: all of these performers and crew gathered together to try to pull off something sort of impossible on a shoestring budget. Coco [Karol], our choreographer and my new-found friend, was seven months pregnant when we shot the footage; and the whole cast and crew almost revolved around that baby inside her.”
No surprise considering the dependably holistic Amanda Palmer gestalt, it traces a visceral, ideological line right back to “Voicemail For Jill.”
“Coco and I both experienced painful miscarriages a few years ago,” Palmer opens up, “and we took turns carrying each other through the dark. This project was a sort of a healing ritual for us both, and we wanted the video to feel like the crossroads between brutal hopelessness and passionate hope – which is what everybody seems to be feeling nowadays.”
The track appears on her brilliant new album There Will Be No Intermission, which is as unrelenting as its title suggests. She’ll take all that relentlessness on the road, launching a 33-date European tour in Amsterdam on September 4.