Sound And Vision: Rosto A.D.
In the article series Sound and Vision we take a look at music videos from notable directors. This week we look at Anouk's The Dark and Thee Wreckers' No Place Like Home, both by Rosto A.D.
Rosto A.D. is a Dutch animator and director whose work might not be that well known, but who deserves more consideration. For this Sound and Vision I want to highlight two music videos he has made, that show different sides of his craft. First up there is the music video for No Place Like Home for the band Thee Wreckers. This is a pure Rosto-project, through and through. To summarize Rosto's career very quickly: as an animator, artist and musician he came up with a sort of bible to which every one of his artistic endeavors would connect. The main project inside this self-made creative universe was "Mind My Gap", an on-line interactive webcomic about two reclusive characters, Diddybob and Buddybob, who are lured into a grand adventure by a mysterious devil-like figure called Virgil, who not coincidentally looks a lot like Rosto himself. It's a story full of mythological creatures and dark themes, grand in scope, and can still be read on www.mindmygap.com.
There were three short films set in the same universe, made by Rosto: Beheaded, The Rise and Fall of the Legendary Anglobilly Feverson and the fantastic Jona/Tomberry (please, check that one out). There was also The Monster of Nix, a musical family film, which retells the story of "Mind My Gap" in an alternate universe, now catered to a family audience. That project had the voice of Tom Waits as Virgil, and also had avant-garde band The Residents and Terry Gilliam in its cast. Rosto finished up the project of "Mind My Gap" with The Thee Wreckers Tetralogy. A collection of four shorts of which the first two, No Place Like Home and Lonely Bones are the closing chapters of the whole "Mind My Gap" project. The third and fourth film, Splintertime and Re-runs, play like a sort of epilogue slash swansong for the entire project, in which the band Thee Wreckers (consisting of Rosto and friends) are coming to terms with their mortality. Rosto died in 2019, and never finished the planned feature film about the "Mind My Gap"-story.
No Place Like Home, the first part of the Thee Wreckers Tetralogy was also launched as a stand-alone music video. It's a stunning piece, that still hasn't aged a day visually, even though it is almost 15 years old now. It's a very personal piece, telling the story of Diddybob mourning Buddybob's death and departure, eventually forcing him to leave the comfort of his home, a hotel room, and follow in the footsteps of his friend. He is also haunted by the Thee Wreckers, a band of musicians who act like four horsemen of the apocalypse to Virgil's devilish character (even though Virgil doesn't show up in No Place Like Home). The spectre of death hangs over all four of the instalments of The Thee Wreckers, but can be watched stand-alone. No Place Like Home plays well as a short film, but equally well as a visual accompaniment to the song by Thee Wreckers.
It is one of three music videos Rosto made. The other two are projects for hire, for the Dutch singer Anouk. Anouk is quite popular in The Netherlands, a commercial songstress with a rock edge. Think of her as the Dutch Melissa Etheridge, but with more local hits. Rosto, as a musician with a more proggy style, who also had connections to out-there avant-garde bands like The Residents, doesn't immediately seem like the perfect fit for the more mainstream leanings of Anouk. The video for I Live for You is not necessarily typically Rosto: it seems like a generic grungey video, where Rosto seems very much inspired by Dave McKean. A bit derivative, if you will.
The video for The Dark, though, is Rosto through and through, and to Anouk's credit she embraces the weirdness and darkness present in Rosto's work. In that video, also highlighted below, we see Anouk's shadow becoming a depthless void, making a Wonderland-like world collapse unto itself. With the help of a group of odd clones in steampunk gear, they defeat the devilworm living inside 'the dark'. It's Rosto's version of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. The green screen effects are much more obvious than in Rosto's later work, and some of the animation has aged a bit. But be reminded: this music video was released in 2000, on a Dutch music video budget, which would be very much on the cheap. Given those circumstances that the visuals still stand on their own is something of a miracle. Rosto A.D. was a wizard, and he should be way more well known.