Silent Protagonist, the solo project from Louis Bowman (1/2 of BEACONS) is ready to share his latest project with planet Earth. The offering comes in the form of a 10-song concept video album that combines brilliant otherworldly electro tunes with beautifully bizarre visuals. A Smear and a Memory is the title of this adventure, and while it is currently streaming on YouTube, I’m told it will also be physically available on VHS on personal request and eventually will end up in a few record stores.
Here’s what the VHS looks like:
While there isn’t exactly a linear progression from video to video and/or song to song, each track offers a unique, but similar trip of an experience. The videos are all over the place, at times serving as a collage of bizarre and glitched out animated clips to weird third person video taken by Bowman himself. Serving as a perfect component to these visuals, the music is mostly instrumental electronica with that at times reminds me of Aphex Twin and Orbital, and at other points I’m thinking of the harsher side of Broken-era NIN.
My personal favorite song/video might be “Trimwalker”; the song is largely centered around a hard hitting hip-hop beat with samples of hypnotic, otherworldly vocals, while the video looks like a colorful, fucked up version of that scene in Poltergeist where Carol Ann gets sucked into the TV. I also really like “Ceiling Fan” (NSFW!!) which plays out like a short Cronenberg-esque horror flick where a demented man in a mask performs surgery on a young woman and ends up making her half human, half pig. It fucking rules!
I asked Louis about what fueled him to create A Smear and a Memory, and he told me “Most of the inspiration really just came from stuff I like. Anything from horror and exploitation films, to Caustic Window era riot music, to obsolete technology and old video games. Sometimes I’d sit down to write a song based entirely on a single movie quote, other times the idea for the video came before the song. Overall it was about attempting to bring varying levels of discomfort to the viewer/listener.” Cool, I can get with that.