Wednesday, 30 July 2014

PV Analysis: Neverland - 'Escape Land'

The band called Neverland came together in mid-2012, bringing a strong speed-rock sound with effective use of distortion. Comprised of Ryota (vocal), Kazuki (guitar), Temple (bass) and Amber (drums), the band is rather active as of late, releasing a 5th single the day I write this. I'll be looking at their 4th single's PV, “Land Escape” - presenting a variety of performance shots and a crime tale told with bizarre technique.

The video begins with a shot of a man wearing a suit and a rabbit mask, standing behind a bar. As we can't see the ears of the rabbit, it would appear there's a hat atop the man's head. The juxtaposition of the animal mask and the man's suit create an early sense of confusion in the viewer, as though we're being shown something that doesn't sit right. There's a reveal of Ryota, behind bars wrapped with chains, as though he's been imprisoned for a crime as yet unrevealed.

There's a shot filtered in blue, back to the bar from the start, of a man in a cat mask and suit. He appears to brandish a gun, and we see more of the bar in full as the cat-man shakes up a drink. We're shown Ryota behind bars and cut back to a glass on the bar. Balls appears to move in reverse next to the glass, granting the bar setting a further sense of unreality. The suits, based on the setting and appearance of weaponry, appear to be meant to evoke yakuza.

After the 20 second mark we're shown the remaining band member amidst more shots of the lead singer, all in a setting lit similarly to Ryota's cell. There's a strangely filtered shot that appears to incorporate a fish-eyed lens, but also some manner of video-tape style distortion is at play as well. The shot depicts Ryota close-up to the bars, followed by solo shots of the band members. There's a chessboard shown, and the white king is taken to the other side and used to knock down the black king. As allusion to a conflict it's a simple yet effective image used here.

The band members are shown in solo performance shots from varying angles, and around the 1:05 point we cut back to the bar to see a shaker being used to mix a drink as before. More shots of the band in solos are followed by a closeup of the cat-masked man, tilting his head slightly. There appears to be some ornate makeup on the right eye of the mask, composed of sequins or some shiny stones. This would appear to correspond to Ryota's similar makeup, casting him as this armed bartender cat-man.

We're shown the band playing together in full, back to the lead singer in solo, and back to the full band again. More solo shots of the band, Ryota singing back behind bars, the fish-eyed distortion and an array of video effects are in play in the quick cuts here. Around 1:30 we've cut back to the bar, where the rabbit man engages in various behaviours – he holds a bouquet of flowers, tossing it from one hand to the other. The last of these shows him brandishing a stick, a further implication of violence.

The band shots are back, interspersed with a shot of a floor and another of five eyeballs, color-shifted by means of a filter. They appear to roll around slightly and move in reverse. As there's four members in the band I'm not sure they represent the musicians; they're laid out in a pattern similar to four fingers and a thumb so perhaps the formation alludes to a hand. The band plays on in full, Ryota is behind bars once more and we see a closeup of a glass on the bar, bartender nearby.

The members play in solo shots, highlighted by yellow 'solar' flares. Ryota is imprisoned again and filtered in blue, and then the chessboard seen earlier is swept clear in one motion before seeing more solo band shots. We see a glass on the bar and pieces of fruit appear to roll backwards, two cherries settling into place beside the it. The reversed shots would imply some time-displacement, as though the bar portions account for Ryota's imprisonment in the present.

At 2:30, this becomes fully clear as we apparently see Ryota holding a gun on Kazuki in profile, in front of a brick wall. The tone of the shot is closer to the bar sequences so it can be surmised that we're seeing the reason Ryota's in prison as he sings. There's more shots of Ryota behind bars and with the band, before we see him lying on the cell floor, slightly reflected in the damp of the cell. This fades to black, and more of the band playing, before the cat-mask lolls into view in a tight close-up as before.

Among a dizzying barrage of performance shots, a tale of betrayal amongst thieves appears to play out starring lead singer. The track's unrelenting warped rock overtone heightens the piece as a story unfolds in slivers, and the backwards footage grants the whole thing a rather eerie feel. As a relatively new act, it should be interesting to see further clips from Neverland that evolve and refine the band's message.

By Josh Campbell