Ben Anderson presents “Clay Pigeon”

When I first heard “Clay Pigeon” a few months ago, I sat in silence as the last chords still hung in the air and simply said “Holy Fuck!” The song wasn’t even finished yet. Was this Ben Anderson? The same Ben Anderson who had put out the soft spoken and lovely Where The Lights Go? EP last year? The singer songwriter I had met a year prior at the behest of my girlfriend and a host of other musicians about town? Instant two word review, “Holy Fuck!” It’s all I could say as I shook my head in disbelief staring at the hair standing up on my arms. “Clay Pigeon” was powerful on all levels, musically, lyrically and thematically, the song tore through my mind like a searing knife, setting all neurons on fire. Ben Anderson 2017 was a far different beast than the mild mannered giant I had become acquainted with the previous year and not just because he had shaved his head.

“Holy Fuck.” The song was steeped in The Bends era Radiohead, but went beyond the influence, Anderson’s voice had a depth and quality to it that was previously untapped. The guitars, the strings, the entire accompaniment was explosive and beautiful at once. All of that and it has a hook within it that cannot be dropped from your mind or your soul–which ever ephemeral part of you that hangs on to songs like this. Best song of the year? I questioned minutes later having recovered slightly from the extreme frisson I had experienced. Perhaps, it’s too early to call. I felt extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to hear it early on, carrying it with me, nearly every day for the last three months. To somehow convey such a weightey message with a hook that good, a track that aesthetically pleasing to the ear, was no mean feat. This certainly wasn’t a carefree pop tune, but it’s as addictive as one. Anderson’s vocals convey the gravity of the song, while also providing accessible warmth. The music provides the overwhelming swell of emotions and the physical drive to consume you.

Yesterday, Ben Anderson released his greatest collaboration with Olivier Zahm yet with both the song and the powerful video for “Clay Pigeon.” If the song doesn’t give you chills or goosebumps or all out frisson, the video will probably make sure that you do. It spells out the song a little better than the lyrics, which to be honest are pretty clear. Both are magnificent, one is a perfect song and the other is very nearly four minutes of cinema. The song and video are powerful enough that I actually wanted to discuss them with the artist and Anderson was more than generous with his time and response to not only the subject matter, but the concerns that may arise.

The song paints a rather gruesome picture of the state of mental health in America and while guns may be more of a symbolic image of violence here, the focus on violence as a solution is more the focus as Anderson was quick to point out.

“‘Clay Pigeon’ is a song to raise awareness to the fact that we as a society, have violence strongly integrated into our culture,” Anderson said.  ”The song is not pro or anti-gun laws.  I truly don’t believe that’s the main source of the problem.  ’Clay Pigeon’ focuses more on the lack of research and resources needed to help the mentally ill, the over glorification of violence through the media, and the lax  enforcement of weapon sales.”

The subject matter has been on Anderson’s mind for some time now, but he didn’t have a way to make it click within a song for years.

“I’ve wanted to write a song on this subject for a while but it wasn’t until I came up with the song title ‘Clay Pigeon’  that I had a spring board to launch off of,” Anderson said.   “The song composition is an amazing combination of Olivier and myself.”

The video though, is nearly as fascinating as the song and for some, it may be more so. The imagery, the storyline, the visual metaphors all match the poetics of the song, a subtle protest in the form of a cautionary tale.

“The music video plot came from the music,” Anderson sais. ” There’s Indian violin that serves as the centerpiece for the song.  I felt that we should have either a belly dancer or some sort of Kali Goddess as a character in the plot. With the mentally ill aspect of the main character, it made sense to have her control the protagonist, since people that are mentally ill can feel powerless.”

What of the mysterious “Lady Kali Goddess”, deftly brought to life by LuxBot Lächeln? There are many questions about the phantom presence throughout the video and her role in the rise and fall of “Str8tShooterAK” (Anderson).

“We left it ambiguous with the Kali Goddess being real or not,” Anderson explained. “It might be a figment of his imagination, it might be real. It doesn’t matter.  She is the driving force of his actions.  Buy the gun.  Gather the congregation.  Lead a revolution.”

“The entire thing is an example of a man’s inner, darkest Id becomes an ethos of an entire society,” Anderson ruminated further. “When Philosophy evolves into Ideology.”

Behind it all, there is very real commentary on the state of a world dealing head on with authoritarian movements emerging globally and the romance of fascism taking to the air. It’s not like anyone is keeping it a secret and while there may be some hyperbole at work here for the sake of art, this video and the tune aren’t far from everyday reality in the USA.

“Global politics isn’t something that your inner impulses should be able to influence,” Anderson added. “If you make a belief system for the masses based on fear, it creates a way for global authoritarianism and imperialism. Authoritarian Populism uses fear and ignorance as its fuel.   The main character in the music video becomes a demagogue for the crowd of submissive, conformed ‘pigeons.’  The AK and the ‘pigeons’ are the vehicle the main character (under the control of Kali, or his Id) uses to strengthen his power.”

Keep your ears open for more from Ben Anderson this year. “Clay Pigeon” is the first in a series of singles to be tied into a concept EP called YouTopia planned to be released later this year through Chromodyne. For right now, feast your ears and eyes on the magnificent “Clay Pigeon”!!!