Soundtrack review: “Mind Field”
The skateboarding scene is heavily influenced by music and vice versa, spawning many great bands where artists are skateboarders. Hanni El Khatib, Dinosaur jr., Tommy Guerrero, to name a few. Even Beastie Boys have roots in skateboarding! Not only does music hype up the boys during a beer fueled skate session at your local slappy curb, it also is a necessity to view skateboarding videos. Longer videos are separated by individual parts, while shorter montages cram the whole squad into 3 or 4 minutes. In any which case, the music is a vessel carrying you through the visual experience. The skater might be the captain of the vessel, but music definitely holds the position for first mate. Music can make or break a montage. Too often we see amazing skateboarding, but the enjoyment is cancelled out by a bad song or even worse: using an amazing song, that just doesnt fit the skateboarders personality or style. It’s flaccid. A great editor knows his subject and makes his choice of tracks accordingly. In this new segment, Kataloog will explore the best soundtracks from skateboarding vidoes. And maybe even review some bad ones as well.
It wasn’t difficult choosing the first subject. Of course it’s Alien Workshop’s “Mind Field” from 2009. Directed and edited by Greg Hunt, the soundtrack has the sense of classical Alien Workshop, but with a neo-electro twist to it. During that time, the Arcade Fire or Modest Mouse esque indie craze in skatevideos was slowly dying off and new directions in edits were made. Note, that during this period filming and editing equipment became more affordable, injecting many filmers into the scene. The shier ammount of full videos and smaller edits saturated the market with so much new daily content, that editors were forced to explore new techniques to separate their skateboarding art from everyone elses. Even though Alien Workshop has always been known and recognized by it’s distinctive edits, “Mind Field” differs from it’s own brand and also differs from the mainstream skateboard film.
“Mind Field” does feature classic artists, such as Dinosaur Jr., but the more interesting choises include Animal Collective and Modeselektor. That’s not “skate music”, so hearing those artists for the first time during some OG east coast line or flip-in flip-out trick is… strange. Strange, that it works perfectly well with the skating. Nowadays it is commonplace to hear the most bizzare tunes during videos. Palace and Bronze 56k took it even a step further and introduced deep house and vaporwave into the mix.
So, with that piece of brief history in mind, does the “Mind Field” soundtrack still hold up? The biggest culprit with these types of scenarios is getting period-locked, which will make you instantly associate the soundtrack with a specific period in time. It will not make the songs bad, but it will make it feel oddly outdated. The answer is no, even though the compilation features songs that vastly varie in genre: hip-hop, indie, electro, punk, experimental, etc. Listening through the playlist, it oddly works in favour with eachother.
The actual video features more music: ambient stuff for intros-outros and in between segments. Or some tunes just aren’t available on Spotify. But starting off the whole skateboarding bit with Dinosaur Jr. sets a fun tone, even though most would consider “Mind Field” more of an art project than a skate video. Dinosaur Jr.’s vibe is definitely nostalgic and the highschoolish indie make everything pretty innocent. As stated before, the soundtrack varies in genre. You’d think, that there will be smooth transitions between them. Nope. Give a warm welcome to music, that was very weird in 2009: Animal Collective. This and skateboarding shouldn’t work together, but strangely enough it compliments the visuals exquisitely! In the middle sections, everything is mostly indie-ish or soft rock and easilly digestible, except for Josh Kalis’ part, featuring some proper hiphop beats. Brings you down to the street level.
Even though using Animal Collective in your edit, twice, is weird enough, then where does Modeselektor land? Modeselektor’s music is more “normal”, but does electronic music fit the flow of skateboarding? Remember, this was before using electro and house music was acceptable and cool in skateboarding edits! Even though the tune reminds something a snowboarder would listen to, it does’nt interfere or clash with long lines and one-trick hammers.
Choosing Morrissey’s “Speedway” for a closing part is wise: Morrissey is classic and can be dramatic enough to make the final part, the god damn curtains, a satisfying ending. All in all the variety of the soundtrack is pleasing and not overly distracting. Playing the tracks from “Mind Field” infront of an audience will probably make people think, that you know something about music and that you’re not a complete tool. It additionally makes you want to explore new tunes, making it a good compilation for beginner music fans.
Song choice: 8/10
Skate hype: 6/10
Drunk listening: 9/10
Compilation fitting: 7/10
Girls dig: 7/10
Final score 7.5/10