Encyclopedia Asthmatica, Vol. 1

 

Asthmatic Kitty

Four and a half stars

This cleverly packaged and charming DVD collection of music videos and live performances by artists on indie-pop label Asthmatic Kitty would serve as a great introduction to the novice and an adjunct to audio-only releases for the initiate. Highlights include skilfully animated videos accompanying tunes by dreamy folk-rockers The Castanets (ornate computer-animated flowers decorate a live-action scene in a drab farmhouse) and electro-rock miniaturist Rafter (cute but grotesque cartoon characters join a lip-synching singer, à la Who Framed Roger Rabbit). Pickings are a bit slim from the most well-known artist on the label, the prolific Sufjan Stevens, but a concert video of a performance of the song “Jacksonville” at Calvin College is the best live video in the set, a multi-camera production that captures the energy of a busy and fully-orchestrated stage show.

Menu design and animated chapter transitions conjure up antiquated library archives and indicate the care and craft that went into producing this disc, and the label’s commitment to nurturing and promoting its artists. While the quality of videos varies (some bootleg quality recordings of SXSW concerts are forgettable), it’s clear overall that Asthmatic Kitty artists are engaged with the visual arts as well as music, and deserve a collection as comprehensive as this one.

Looks/sounds like:

video art, Michigan, Danielson

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