Philadelphia noise-rockers Empath have shared a new video for their single ‘Passing Stranger’. The latest offering from their forthcoming album, Visitor, the song is a fuzzy behemoth that has now been brought to life via an equally as washed-out music video. The video was shot by Halle Ballard in band member Catherine Elicson’s apartment. Elicson also helmed production and editing duties for the clip.
The band’s last record came in the form of 2019’s Active Listening: Night on Earth. In November, they got us excited with the release of ‘Diamond Eyelids’, the first single from Visitor. Strangely, ‘Diamond Eyelids’ was also released in September as the B-side to their return single ‘Born 100 Times’.
Of the new single, Elicson explained in a statement: “The beat was inspired by druggy Velvet Underground drums, on top of which Randall began improvising a heavy tremolo on his synth. One of the slowest songs we’ve ever written without an abrasive moment. We finally got to do a fade out. This song was written in a similar way to ‘Diamond Eyelids’ i.e. collaging together memories. This time I pieced together different memories from my childhood, some idyllic, some difficult, but as if it were a story about someone else returning to their hometown.”
Elicson also revealed how the song came to fruition, adding: “The melody of this song was actually in a really old iPhone voice memo that I had made and forgot about. When I re-listened to it after a year or so, I was like damn this is catchy I gotta finish writing this one. I also wanted a song where I could bust out my sweep picking in a non-cringe way. I hope to be considered at the vanguard of sweep picking in pop music, thank you.”
The meaning of the video is as opaque as the song, mirroring the mesh of influences that Elicson utilised when writing the track. At the inception, we see a tape recorder set in motion before the camera focuses on an empty hallway, dimly lit by candles, as well as some mysterious green and red light. There’s also a cat kicking about. It’s akin to a scene from The Love Witch.
Then we watch the band hanging out in the apartment, with Elicson on the phone, and the other band members doing their thing. Keyboard player Randall Coon messes about on his synth whilst drummer Garrett Koloski has a camcorder, accomplishing lighthearted close-ups of his face. It’s a candid but slightly contrived image of the band ‘hanging out’; however, the saturated colours work perfectly to augment the siren-like melodies of the song.
The clip ends with the band atop a hill in the dark, with some spooky close-ups of keyboardist Emily Shanahan which seems to infer that they were taking part in some form of ritual, although it’s unclear what exactly it meant, as it doesn’t match the lyrics about returning to a hometown. Regardless, as a whole, the trippy visuals work on mirroring the style of the song, and is an effective team effort.
Watch the video below.