Complaining that MTV is banal and overly commercial and creatively bankrupt is akin to bitching that the sky is big. And, despite the fact that "Visual Niches 2" is predicated on that very complaint, this collection of videos is still somewhat melancholy in that of the fifteen tracks here, exactly two -- by DJ Shadow and Basement Jaxx -- stand even the most remote chance of ever being seen by more than the small subset of folks who will pick this up. What's even more depressing is that this supposedly cutting-edge compilation (Roots Manuva, LFO, Console, T. Raumschmiere, Amon Tobin and other electronic giants are present) is surprisingly mediocre when it comes to the visual aspect. Sure, limited budgets provide limited liability, but since when has future music culture been restrained by finances -- especially when it comes to visual expression? Videos by Deichkind (who, by the way, are on a major label) and Rocko Schamoni (also on a major) are stunningly low-rent and cliché-laden. And "Witness" by Roots Manuva is just a pathetic in-joke. Sure, the Warp crew -- Anti-Pop Consortium and LFO -- has its visual shit together and the clip for Basement Jaxx's "Where's Your Head At?" (directed by Traktor, a Swedish advertising agency; talk about re-reversals of cultural appropriations) is positively stunning. Musically, it's all quite good, but, at the end of the day, if clips like these are the visual alternative for "Work It," I'll take bee-face on the TV any day, and play this stuff in the car.
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