As puffy dark smoke gurgles out of factory flues and black tar falls from the sky, a family of four is settled inside their house, in front of their television, flipping through channels and watching the world expire from the safety of their living room couch.
This is the scene that opens "Emergency", the first-ever music video from Halcyon Phase, a new rock duo from Ottawa. "Emergency" is the kick-off track on its debut record, Tendrils. As with "Emergency" and its accompanying video, the full-length album takes us into a dark and brooding (at some points post-apocalyptic) world.
While climate change, political corruption, and corporate greed aren’t new topics for musicians to draw inspiration from, sometimes the message can get lost.
Halcyon Phase’s "Emergency", though, proves to be effective in delivering its message with its hauntingly memorable music video.
The video for "Emergency" was created by B.C. illustrator and animator Jesse Stasiuk. He says in a press release that he drew inspiration from various dystopian authors and directors including George Orwell, Terry Gilliam, Allan Moore, and John Carpenter.
Stasiuk says: “I created an Orwellian nightmare society which seems perfect for the lyrics and tone of this Halcyon Phase song and speaks to a decided tilt to the ultra-right in our real-world politics. Faced with an ecological crisis, the proposed solution of the society is driven by short term greed; a chemical solvent to purify the contaminated water. Of course, the process to create the solvent is generating more pollution than the product can hope to contend with."
Frank Smith, lead vocalist of Halcyon Phase, adds while these songs were written before the COVID-19 pandemic, the lyrics “carry more weight as we listen to the finished album in context”.
Listening to the album now feels oddly symbolic of the year we’ve just witnessed. We’ve watched alt-right extremists threaten peace across North America and climate change and life-saving medicine be doubted and refused across nations.
As we sit in front of our own TVs, a lot like the family in the video, we’re forced to reflect on the year behind us and wonder what we can do to make the future a bit better.
If we don’t do this, like the song says, “It’ll only get worse.”