PV Analysis: nano – ‘Sable’

The artist called nano first came to public attention in 2006 via YouTube under a few other names, impressing listeners with her distinct vocals. After a number of years as an artist on video sharing sites, she signed with a label in 2012. She has released 2 albums and a number of singles since then, the latest of which is mini-album ‘Infinity≠Zero/ Sable, an emotional call to personal revolution. The video includes some jarring effects shots to match the anguished lyrics, and imagery made more clear after some research.

From the intro title graphic we see a young man in black walking into a warehouse of some sort, a garage-style door grants entry and clatters shut. We’re then shown the band playing, one at a time, and nano sings into an old-fashioned microphone, hood hung low, concealing her face. We never see her face in full over the course of the video, giving her a presence like that of a boxer menacing a ring.

We see the young man in tight close-up as the lyrics continue, looking pained about something. From the lyrics ‘blinded by reality / broken ideology / heart in captivity’ we can presume he’s suffering the aftermath of shattered delusions. He’s seen in a wider shot, walking towards a piano in a slightly better lit area. When we next see him, the tense of the sequence is called into question.

The singer nano is shown again, between panes of glass that reflect her band-mates – guitar on her right and drums on the left. It’s a strange, ghostly effect, calling to mind some of the hologram performances of recent years. The young man is seen walking next to the piano, running his fist along it and coming to a plunk on the keys as he reaches that end of the instrument.

Closeups of the young man show him with a frustrated, angry expression. Another man is seen with a white shirt on the other end of the piano, walking around it while the darkly-clothed man is in frame as well. This gives the sequence a sensation of strange recall, as though the white-shirted person is there in memory only – more on this later.

Cut with shots of the band, the young man departs the piano and we see him in extreme closeup, with a confused look on his face. At around 1:45 there’s another closeup, this time extended, as he appears extremely distraught. The lyrics refer to ‘system shutdown’ around this point, and he seems to show it directly here. The band plays on in the warehouse, on glass and in solo shots, replete with distressed film effects.

The next time we see the young man he’s walking outside, coming up on a curb, definitely at night. His solitude seems to reflect lyrics like ‘don’t tell me that I’m making another mistake’ on some level, or rebellion in the face of being told he’s wrong. The sentiment is one that listeners of all ages can relate to, but the young tend toward the strongest reaction to these admonishments.

We see the young man lit strongly from behind, as though he’s under a streetlamp perhaps, and he glances to the right slowly. The shot transitions to a wide shot – the man’s in the middle, staring at the wall of a closed shop. A projection on the shop wall shows a crowd of people at a street crossing, I think they represent the societal voices of defeat of the young man, painting his impressions and mood the titular ‘Sable‘, although the lyrical reference is to the black garment as opposed to the shade.

As the lyrics hit a crescendo of sorts, we see the young man back-lit and staring at the wall, and it sounds like the lyrics are directed at a society that doesn’t foster the dreams or ideas of the individual. At least they take on this tone when paired up with the imagery in the clip here, as taken alone they could refer wholly to one broken by love and finding a new one. The young man in black looks dazed, and the young man in white appears to come upon the scene in a better lit shot. The young man in black picks up a bottle, and hurls it against the wall.

From his act of violence, we cut back to the band and see a range of solo performance shots, back to nano between the guitarist and drummer on glass. The violence of the bottle-throw seems reflected here as the glass shatters, surrounding nano with falling shards. The young man is seen similarly showered, although where the glass is coming from is anyone’s guess – music video magic, perhaps.

He appears pained, clutching at his head and face as though anguished by his thoughts rather than injured physically by the glass. He rears his head back, and as the song ends the shot reveals his face showing a bizarrely abject state of happiness – the lyrical ‘new life’ perhaps causing this grin.

The track is a strongly intriguing narrative thread that works with the PV to the other track on the single, Infinity≠Zero, as I found in looking for confirmation of the lyrics you can see the two side by side for a clearer understanding of the fragment presented here, further accounting for the presence of the man in the white shirt. The two clips weave to make a more sensical whole. An interesting visual storytelling element from a strong vocal performer, it will be interesting to see what may come next from nano.

By Josh Campbell

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