New Video: The Post-Modern Art-Inspired Visuals for Preoccupations “Degraded”

If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past two years or so, you’d likely be familiar with  Calgary, Alberta-based quartet Preoccupations. Initially formed as Viet Cong, the members of the band — Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and  Daniel Christiansen (guitar) — unwittingly found themselves in the middle of an ongoing conversation about cultural appropriation and associating oneself with names that evoke the horrors of fascism, despotism, war, racism and so on last year. As a result of the surrounding controversy, the members of the band decided that a name change was absolutely necessary and after some reflection, consideration a rather difficult decision was made, and the band announced they would be now known as Preoccupations.

When the members of the band reconvened to write the material that would eventually comprise their forthcoming self-titled effort as Preoccupations, each member of the band had found themselves in an unsteady and uncertain state. Some had years-long relationships end and the members of the band all relocated to different cities, which made their long-held process of writing material while on the road extremely difficult, if not impossible. Adding to the sense of uncertainty within the writing and recording process, the members of the band went into it without having a central idea or theme to consider or to guide them through. Each member of the band recognized that this particular time, the writing and recording sessions for their newest effort would be a blind yet collective leap of faith and in many ways, the album captures a band in the middle of a major transition and feeling their way through and out in the only way that anyone really could — with steely resolve.

As the band’s frontman Matt Flegel has explained in press notes, the album’s material draws from very specific things — the sort of things that has most people up all night, fraught with anxiety and despair. The album’s first single “Anxiety,” is as Flegel explained about the the process of natural and forced change upon the band (or upon people generally), while on another level, the song captures the uncertain and uneasy push and pull of human relationships, including the bitterness, regret, ambivalence, frustration and self-doubt they almost always engender within us all. Sonically, the song possesses a subtly atmospheric sheen while further cementing their reputation for crafting tense and angular post punk that draws from Joy Division and others. The self-titled album’s second single “Degraded” pairs their tense and angular song with what may arguably be the possess the most straightforward and hook-friendly song structure they’ve written to date; however, the song lyrically reveals itself to be full of bilious accusation and recrimination, ill-feeling and seems to evoke a relationship slowly splintering at its core, complete with the realization that as a result the relationship will be irrevocably altered; but simultaneously being a plaintive and urgent plea for understanding, for forgiveness, for the dysfunctional train ride to just stop.  Sonically, the band employs synths to give their already tense material a subtle atmospheric feel much like “Anxiety;” however, the album’s latest single pushes that feeling of anxiety outward so that it becomes an enveloping and inescapable fog.

Although the recently video manages to evoke a post modern painting with colors and shapes appearing as though reduced to abstraction, as the video’s director Valentina Tapia explains “The video offers an encounter with the primordial ruins of a post-human landscape, where sentient sculptural artifacts attempt to reassemble themselves piece by piece.” And while being surreal, the video manages to evoke a world splintering apart into something both unrecognizable and recognizable if you were to pay close attention, accurately capturing the tense and anxious sensibility within the song.

The band is in the middle of a lengthy world tour, which includes a second New York area stop at Warsaw in October. Check out the tour dates below.

World Tour Dates

08.21.16 – White Oak Music Hall – Houston, TX *

08.22.16 – Bomb Factory – Dallas, TX *

08.24.16 – Tricky Falls – El Paso, TX *

08.28.16 – FYF Fest – Los Angeles, CA

08.29.16 – Mountain Winery – Saratoga, CA *

08.30.16 – Ace of Spades – Sacramento, CA *

09.01.16 – Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR *

09.02.16 – Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR *

09.28.16 – The Rickshaw Theater – Vancouver, BC

10.01.16 – Mac Hall Ballroom – Calgary, AB ^

10.03.16 – WECC – Winnipeg, MB ^

10.04.16 – Fine Line Music Cafe – Minneapolis, Mn ^

10.05.16 – Thalia Hall – Chicago, Il ^

10.07.16 – Crofoot Ballroom – Pontiac, Mi ^

10.08.16 – Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, ON ^

10.11.16   Virgin Mobile Corona Theater   Montreal, QC ^

10.12.16 – The Sinclair – Cambridge, Ma ^

10.14.16 – Warsaw – Brooklyn NY ^

10.15.16 – First Unitarian Church – Philadelphia, Pa ^

10.16.16 – Rock & Roll Hotel – Washington DC ^

10.18.16 – Masquerade – Atlanta, Ga ^

10.19.16 – Gasa Gasa – New Orleans, La ^

10.21.16 – The Mohawk – Austin, Tx ^

10.25.16 – Valley Bar – Phoenix, Az ^

10.26.16 – The Irenic – San Diego, Ca ^

10.28.16 – The Roxy – Los Angeles, Ca ^

10.29.16 – The Independent – San Francisco, Ca

11.02.16 – Neumos – Seattle, Wa ^

11.05.15 – Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, UK

11.06.16 – Gorilla – Manchester, UK

11.07.16 – Oval Space – London, UK

11.08.16 – Exchange – Bristol, UK

11.09.16 – The Haunt – Brighton, UK

11.10.16 – Le Guess Who Festival – Utrecht, NL

11.12.16 – Botanique – Brussels, BE

11.14.16 – Pumpehuset – Copenhagen, DK

11.15.16 – Molotow – Hamburg, DE

11.18.16 – Musiques Volantes Festival – Metz, FR

11.21.16 – La Laiterie – Strasbourg, FR

11.22.16 – Klaus – Zurich, CH

11.23.16 – Magnolia – Milan, IT

11.24.16 – Quirinetta – Rome, IT

11.25.16 – Locomotiv –  Bologna, IT

11.26.16 – Suprette Festival – Neuchatel, CH

11.28.16 – Luxor – Cologne, DE

^ w/ Methyl Ethel

* w/ Explosions In The Sky