Friday, May 27, 2011

...from Mark #15 - Tom Waits - Helium Reprise

I set myself a series of 4 rules while broadcasting. One was to play as much Tom Waits as is humanly possible, the other three don't seem to matter right now. I certainly never got to broadcast this one as it somehow slipped through my net til this week, and even by Waits standards, it does seem very special.

As do the Tin Hat Trio (also known as just Tin Hat), who are not only the perfect Waits complement, they even have a touch of the Calexicos on this (which must surely be a great thing)

Finally, one of my Waits favourites, and a proper great video. I've seen this a hundred times and my pea brain still can't work out the sped up/slowed down effect. Is it just a proportion of frames removed?  I particular like the vocal backing track, the recording of which probably straddled the dividing line between fun and tedium.


  1. The Tin Hat song here reminds me a little of Dirty Three:

  2. Tin Hat sound distinctly Jewish - Like a lot of old Jewish men in a bar. It's the violin & the trumpet and the playful manner it's done.

    They're good.

    I think Mr Waits must have hated making this video - obviously I'm guessing but it's a bit too cool for a man whos wife has produced several children.

    I think the video looks like its done with a 1960's super 8 camera (i've got one amongst my junk) It misses frames compared to modern cameras but it runs at normal speed, missing frames. The exposure is all off with super8 like in the video with close-up shots.


  3. Yep fully agree about the Super 8 (though I can still feel my Film Tutor sneering scathingly over my right shoulder, so I'll try not to be too smug.)

    First things - totally analog not digital, so I'm thinking film, & probably not 'high res' enough to be 16mm - so Super 8. Also it's very shaky hand-held, and those camera's are kinda small, so move quickly. And I too think it's this frame 'cranking' (think I'm using that right) that you can do on digital video, but comes from film cameras. Usually you shoot 24/25 frames per second, but you can change it down to ratios - 12 or 6 frames a second (which I did for my grad film). Instead of speeding up or slowing down the motion, the camera instead blurs/interpolates between the frames. Combine this with fast-moving shaky hand-held and you get experimental art cinema fun! This is why aesthetically it looks a little like Silent Film, cranking an old movie-flicks box …

    Clue no 2: That'll be Gus Van Sant sitting in the passenger seat. So this will be the 'Down by Law' period. I was so bitter I missed it at the Film Festival at the time!! I *SO* need to go to the library!! Reminded, happy now :)

    Plus: superimposed/double exposure sections, plus 1-2 editing fade transitions, & some drawing eyeballs on films. Enough tech-geek from me.

    That is such a cool fucking car. So to speak. Must be a bitch to run. Through those long American desert highways … I smell gasoline, and erm, see cactus ….

  4. Oh, and I forgot - the Martha Graham school of Free Jazz dancing ...