Ben Chisholm, Felix Skinner Unveil Powerful “I” Video From New Album

Ben Chisholm Felix Skinner

When Ben Chisholm (Chelsea Wolfe’s longtime collaborator) and Felix Skinner (co-founder of the experimental rock group Wreck and Reference) asked fellow musician Karlos Rene Ayala to direct the lead video from the duo’s looming Burgeoning Verse LP, he didn’t shy away from its widescreen melodies and melancholic chords. The LA native somehow made the moving instrumental even more powerful by melding it with blunt images of police brutality. Here’s what he had to say about the clip, followed by another track from the pair’s record, which is set to hit shops on April 20th through Weyrd Son Records….

Since the beginning of 2018, 146 people have been killed by police in America. In a January tweet, journalist Shaun King illustrates why this is profound: “That’s more than police in most nations kill in a decade. It’s more than police in some nations have killed in their entire national history. I know Trump dominates the news, but police brutality is roaring forward.”

Trump dominating the news is in part what provided purpose for this work; there has been a lack in coverage of police violence since 2017, and I’m afraid it continues today. There has historically been a lack of accountability. But I don’t need to remind you about the realities of police brutality in this country.

Beyond an absence of coverage and a lack of accountability, an additional influence on this project is that I grew up in Los Angeles and recall 1992’s LA Riots vividly. The Rodney King video was inescapable during this time, and for a long time afterward. For many of us growing up during this time and to many of our family and friends, this was the first form of documentation of its sort any of us had seen. I recall traversing Florence and Normandie with my mother and father; I recall hearing their quiet conversations, questioning whether they should loot or not; I recall my teacher asking all the students to get under their desks during this time. We would often do these drills in preparation for an earthquake, but now we were running them in the event the rioters made their way beyond the gates of the school and past the walls of our classrooms.

I wondered why; I wondered what good that would do. This was all because of the police; they beat the shit out of Rodney King and were caught on video. The police were the ones we should fear scaling the schoolyard fences and breaking down the doors of our classrooms. The riots seemed like a natural response by a public that was fed up with cop’s abuse of power. Justly, LA had not forgotten the 1965 Watts Rebellion. I wondered why it was assumed the rioters were wrong.

Today, I wonder where the rioters are. Recently there was a documentary on the Los Angeles Riots called LA92. It’s made purely from archival footage; it served as another inspiration for this work. In a somewhat similar fashion to the film, the videos compiled here are primarily sourced from dash cams and body cams; there are also videos taken on phones.

A sidenote: There are two visuals I filmed with my phone: one is a time-lapse of the sky going from pink, to gray; the other is of a bird that met an unfortunate end by becoming tangled in some fishing wire at the top of a parking lot light pole; it hung from the pole in a 99 Cent Store parking lot for over a month until it was finally taken down.

This video is disturbing, traumatic, upsetting. Choose your adjective; it will most likely apply. I don’t need to remind you about police violence in this country. There has been a carousel of these images in many of our heads here in America for a long time.

Ben Chisholm Felix Skinner | Burgeoning Verse album

Ben Chisholm & Felix Skinner
Burgeoning Verse
(Weyrd Son, April 20th)

1. I
2. II
3. III
4. IV
5. V
6. VI
7. VII
9. IX
10. X