Various Asthmatica Vol. 1

Various Asthmatica Vol. 1
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been hoping for more live performance footage from this video collection of Asthmatic Kitty artists. Bunky starts out a little shaky at their live SXSW performance from ’05 but the band find their footing by mid-song and deliver one of the disc’s most endearing music moments. The odd lo-fi videos that follow are kind of the concept for this release, but I don’t know if the kitschy results most of them achieve are just amateur ideas or specific attempts at nostalgia-based humour. Most acts have one live performance and three or four videos representing them, and it’s largely true that the most interesting music is accompanied by the most interesting visuals. Some of the videos are music video in format and that’s when they work best, especially Rafter’s creative editing of simple concepts, but the forays into "filmmaking” are usually awkward instead of cute. Bunky’s "Space Alien” film is laughably bad, as is My Brightest Diamond’s techno mix superhero caper flick (their live performance is kick-ass though). Shapes and Sizes are entertaining and the Castanets amusing but it’s really all about Sufjan Stevens. I admit it: I want a whole live performance DVD from him. The one live clip is a delicious taste, surreally capturing his magnificent band in action. The psychedelic videos accompanying rare Sufjan tracks are the most fascinating and accomplished feats of visual art included on Asthmatica Vol. 1. (Asthmatic Kitty)