Ever get the feeling that you are 10 times thicker and 20 times less deep than the next guy?
If so, we can relate. Where the futuristic world in Idiocracy was probably meant to be some version of hell for brain surgeons, computer programmers, and Billy Corgan, from our spot in the balcony it looked like some sort of heavenly prophecy. How many times have we looked skyward and cursed God for the fact that Ow My Balls! is no closer to making its network-televison debut than ASS is to opening at the local multiplex?
We'll never be able to understand how they made Arthur Curry talk in Aquaman when his mouth was full of fucking seawater, and usually manage to make it through an entire episode of Jeopardy! without ever getting a single question right.
It goes without saying, then, that NOV3L (pronounced "Nove-three-elle") has left us a little baffled, starting with its band mission statement, which reads in part:
"It feels crass to call N0V3L a band—the word feels cumbersome and bloated with traditionalist connotations. N0V3L is a self-sustaining creative collective operating out of a house in Vancouver, where they produce their own music, videos, and clothing. These elements converge and convulse to create music that challenges the gluttony and ruin wrought by power, while humming along with kaleidoscopic spontaneity into a tightly-wound audible world that is at once jarring and violently danceable."
Musically, the Vancouver collective seems to take its herky-jerky, old new-wave, pre-postpunk cues from the likes of Gang of Four, early Talking Heads, Are We Not Men–era DEVO, and Lotusland's late-great Tin Twist. (While we're on the subject of early West Coast musical renegades, one might draw a through line from the brilliant U-J3RK5 [pronounced "You-J-three-rik-five-S"] to NOV3L.)
Except that, as obviously more intelligent than U-J3RK5 were to Vancouver contempories like the Bludgeoned Pigs and the Butchers, they never came out with anything that made us feel as dense as NOV3L's explanation of the video for "To Whom It May Concern":
“The video for ‘To Whom It May Concern’ embodies an open call to contemplation during a time of intense societal transition influenced by mass digital communication and media. The 20th century has given rise to a transitory generation whose formative years have been spent participating in the rise of the unignorable internet and the initial stages of a transformation in humanity. In this context, how do we allocate our energy with lifetimes of content and avenues to explore? What kind of communities and relationships are we building? How do we want want to influence and shape the future? Habitually, we experience the benefits and consequences of an unprecedented interconnectedness.
"The video exhibits a dichotomy of avenues taken from these new instruments, displaying both depictions of positive community building and collaboration, and the isolation and depersonalization present in countless potential worlds. Splintered focuses and fragmented skill-sets require increased mindfulness about collective direction of energies. With definitions what we term social interaction and fulfillment in flux, rabbit holes present themselves at every turn. Already oversaturated or overwhelmed with content, we have unwittingly become each other’s entertainment. As an overarching message, the video advocates for a focus on collaboration over spectation, such that interconnectedness can provide fuller senses of community and belonging. The audio-visual piece also serves as a foundation for N0V3L’s public identity and thematic exploration moving forward.”
NOV3L's debut EP, NOVEL, will be out on February 15 on Flemish Eye. And, because we don't speak Old Dutch, no, we don't know what a Flemish Eye is either.
Sometimes it sucks to be stupid. Which, luckily, doesn't make us like "To Whom It May Concern" any less, even though we can figure out exactly who the video is supposed to concern.
Watch and, hopefully, learn something.