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‘Viking Angel’: Hollywood Babylonia

Actually Huizenga in
 
If God is in the Hills and the Devil is in the details, then where does that land the glitz of Hollywood? The glitter is there, sure, sparkly, pretty but often masking layers of blood, semen and tears. But isn’t that glamorous too? The grime and soot are as much a part of the picture as the pretty polish and all this and more are explored in post-pop musician/video artist extraordinaire Actually Huizenga’s most epic creation to date, Viking Angel.

Auditioning beautiful, unsure but ambitious aspiring starlets, Mr. Bailey (Louis Oberlander), a blue eyed, bearded Russ Tamblyn-charismatic agent, greets the latest girl. Blonde, lovely and dressed in a sexy approximation of virgin white, the actress (Actually) shows up in his office. A weird tableau of superimposition hell plays on a TV behind her, displaying the legs of basketball players, a neon cross with the words “Jesus Saves” and a future version of herself, naked, bloody and crawling.

The audition, involving lines like “ordinary morality is only for ordinary people,” goes so well that she gets the part and is promptly put through the casting couch process. The film shifts into music video mode with “Male Fantasy” coming on as a Lisa Frank color palette scheme kicks in. A photo of the dismembered body of Elizabeth Short, the infamous “Black Dahlia,” is seen in the background as Bailey soldiers on with his humping. 

Soon, she is being made up and prepped for her big scene, as a newscast comes on a nearby TV. Real newscasts should take a cue from Viking Angel. Animated bats, smoking on the set and dialogue like, “Whatever Ryan, why can’t you just be happy about it?” and “They should be really helping. Not throwing children in the closet with demons.” makes real life news even more mediocre and borderline unbearable. It’s a sick, sad world, with six escaped muscle-bound, sex-starved convicts running around raping and killing innocent families. The newscasters bring on Officer Short (Socrates Mitsios) to discuss the series of new unsolved murders with a matching MO. All of the victims, beautiful and struggling actresses, who have been quartered and drained of blood, Dahlia-style.
 
Socrates Mitsios in
 
As they cue to the weather, the actress gets tied up for her “scene,” as an occult procession starts to roll in, complete with topless women asserting themselves into a fleshy Jesus Christ pose and a ritual sacrifice. Realizing that this is not part of the script, she starts to freak and as the blade starts to pierce her skin, Officer Short arrives and manages to rescue her before the wound gets fatal. Simultaneously, an Insane Viking Warrior (Daniel Pierce) shows up, complete with crazed eyes, ripped six pack and chain mail loincloth, as well as a sexy version of the goddess Freya who looks identical to the actress.

The Officer manages to grab the actress and they crawl out of a hole in the ground, which is flanked by a grinning, dancing gentleman (Gerald) twirling a cardboard sign stating “Sacrifice Here.” They run away, while being unknowingly followed by the Viking Warrior, who lets out a scream of the ages before going on the chase. Down the rabbit hole they go, encountering an S&M bar with whipped businessmen and masturbating Santas, coitus interruptus thanks to vivisection via electric guitar, mass stabbings, watermelon being pierced by a high heel and an ethereal pope figure. 
 
This is all gonna end in blood.
 
Viking Angel is a fluid ride into a universe that intertwines the harsh realities of a violent, superficial world and the dreamy, love-lorn paganism of mythology. The music is a terrific mix of electro-sex-pop with metal undertones, thanks to some stellar guitar work courtesy of Gabriel Tanaka. With Huizenga’s background being music videos and the experimental film work of the SoftRock series, Viking Angel is a seamless blend of these twin formats. There is Huizenga’s brilliant editing style, working superimposition like a well-oiled-acid-laced-machine. The visual layering that is utilized here is like the world’s most stunning pastiche, with the tone of sensuality, bloodletting and the occult playing out like the art-child of Kenneth Anger.

Performance wise, Actually is pitch perfect both as the beautiful starlet who spends ¾ of the film caked in blood during her infernal journey, as well as the strong Freya-type doppelganger. As Mr. Bailey, Louis Oberlander is the epitome of blue-eyed Hollywood sleaze as he leads the sex & death show. Mitsios is charismatic as Officer Short and speaking of which, Gabriel Tanaka is equally striking as both the literally killer guitarist and the ghostly, androgynous Pope.
 
Glitter & Grue
 
The biggest challenge about Viking Angel has nothing to do with the film itself, but the multi-boundary pushing going on. Art crowds will get fussy about the blood and pop music. Horror fans could grouse about the art and pop music. Pop music fans will recoil from the grue and metal undertones, but you know what? That’s why this work is so wonderful and so needed. If your own boundaries are not pushed, then someone is not doing their job. Playing it safe is the last thing any artist should do, while playing it true to their work and vision is the absolute first thing they should do. Actually Huizenga is the real deal and has created a world that is striking, beautiful, nightmarish and complex with Viking Angel. Lucky for both fans and the curious, Huizenga has an upcoming multi-media tour highlighting both the film, the new tunes, as well as an additional performance by cult music wunderkind Ssion. Dates are not yet confirmed but will be posted on her website as soon as they are set.
 

Posted by Heather Drain
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04.16.2014
04:31 pm
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‘My Love Grows In The Dark:’ SSION’s springtime pop perfection
03.02.2012
11:05 am
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Another act who featured on My Awesome Best of 2011 Mixtape and who deserve special mention for the little beauty: ‘My Love Grows In The Dark’ is the new video by SSION (aka Cody Critchloe) and it is simply gorgeous.

SSION’s excellent 2011 long player Bent was my second favourite album of last year, only being pipped at the post for the title “best of” by John Maus’ extraordinary We Must Become The Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. Bent was released as a free download for just one month, but if you didn’t get it (and why not?! I told you so!) fear not, it will be getting a physical re-release soon on Dovecote Records with an accompanying tour.

As well as performing, writing and recording as the floating collective SSION since the late 90s, Cody Critcheloe is a video director who has recently helmed clips for both Santigold and Peaches. It shows: he is an artist with real vision, talent and skill and I’m glad to report I will be posting an interview with Cody in the very near future.

Musically “My Love…” is classy, catchy and excellently produced dance-pop (it’s how I always really wanted the Scissor Sisters to sound, no mean feat that) and in the ace video he rocks a look that’s a bizarre hybrid of Boy George, Andrew WK and Snoop Dogg. Spring is in the air, so let some aural sunshine in:

SSION “My Love Grows In The Dark”
 

 
SSION (the band) will be performing live in New York tonight at the Highline Ballroom. More details for this (highly recommended) gig here.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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03.02.2012
11:05 am
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Get Ssion’s new album ‘Bent’ free for a month


 
Meet Ssion, the gender bending electro-punk dance band from Kansas City, led by front person Cody Critcheloe. Is Cody a man or a woman? I’m not completely sure, but it’s not important - s/he can be whatever you want hir to be. And as with other current queer artists like JD Samson, Cody likes to play with people’s traditional perceptions of style and beauty - witness the trademark combo monobrow and mustache, a pretty risqué fashion move in these anti-hair-biased times

Ssion (pronounced “shun”) are a full on audio/visual/performance-troupe well known for their live shows and support slots for the likes of Gossip and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Critcheloe has been making a respectable career as a video director on the side, working with Peaches, Liars and Scream Club. Ssion formed in Kansas in 1996 and released their first material in 2003. The band released their last album Fools Gold in 2007 and with it the full length feature film Boy which compiled all their music videos and has been described as a “gay, punk rock equivalent of Forest Gump.” Ssion have taken the step of releasing their new album Bent as a free download for a limited time, and it’s definitely worth downloading. As with Tyler the Creator’s first album Bastard, it’s surprising to hear music released for free that is of this high quality.

Make no mistake though - Bent is pop music. It’s party music, it’s designed for dancing - for those moments at a friend’s house when the sun is coming up, you’ve had a ball, but you’ve got that melancholic feeling that to quit now as it’s can’t get any better. There are shades of very early Madonna here, coupled with the classic mid-80s synth driven sound of the Pet Shop Boys and Eurodisco, all refracted through early 90s NY dance pop like Deee-Lite. Bent is basically the album the Scissor Sisters should have made by now, classy dance music stripped of the chintz (and Elton bloody John references) and honed to a sharp electro-pop point. It’s pretty damn good. So my advice to you dear readers is to let a little bit of Ssion into your life - get Bent.

Ssion - “Clown”
 

 
Ssion - “Psy-Chic”
 

 
Ssion - “Luvvbazaar”
 

 
Ssion - “Credit In The Straight World” Excellent cover of

Hole

Young Marble Giants.
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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07.19.2011
10:49 am
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