VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1/13: Trentemøller “Gravity”

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Danish indie-slanted electronic musician Trentemøller has debuted the video for “Gravity,” the second track off his 2013 album Lost. This video is the story of a day in the life of Mr. Carpool, played by Oscar Isaac (recently of Coen Brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis), as he walks the shoulder of a Los Angeles highway, advertising his services as an extra passenger for single drivers who want to fast-track into the carpool lane. Isaac’s title role in Inside Llewyn Davis depicts a down and out folk singer who hitchhikes to New York with no money; in “Gravity,” Mr. Carpool takes on the role of companion, road trip buddy, and confidant.

The relationship between driver and passenger begins ambiguously, with Isaac in disheveled businessman apparel, carrying a briefcase, as the sun rises over the LA highway system. Trentemøller’s staid, pulsing beats suggest a reflective loneliness, with a backdrop of a ticking clock and high vocals that trace placid arches over the music.

Mr. Carpool’s first customer, a harassed looking middle aged man, shoves a life-size doll out of the passenger seat as Carpool shoves into the car. From there on, Isaac’s character is privy to all the eccentricities of people alone in their cars: drivers scream on cell phones, blast their radios, make jokes, eat snacks, cry, and offer him hits off a joint. We don’t hear anything of this, of course; “Gravity” swells and harmonizes as it progresses, blurring together into a representation of the digressions and experiments of the day. By the video’s end, it seems as if “Gravity” has become the soundtrack to a life as viewed from the passenger seats of strangers’ cars. Though Mr. Carpool charges a ten dollar fee for his services, it quickly becomes apparent that he’s just as valuable as a companion as he is an extra body to qualify the car for a space in the car pool lane. We see his drivers soliciting his advice, shaking his hand, or asking him to check their make up.

Like “Gravity” itself, this music video speaks to themes of isolation and togetherness, and easily how a business arrangement gives way to personal interaction. The highway, an apt metaphor for being alone together, opens up to Mr. Carpool in this five and a half minute representation of a work day.

When day of hitchhiking is done, Carpool waits by the side of the road until a dark blue Volkswagen swings by–it’s a woman, one of his customers from earlier that day. He gets in the car and the pair, smiling and familiar with each other–although we saw them meet each other for the first time earlier in the day–drive off, in the right-hand lane of the highway. As the various lines of “Gravity” resolve into harmony, its visual component ends with an uplifting sense of peace–a literal drive into the sunset.

Watch the video for “Gravity,” out via Rolling Stone, below:

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