With the release of “Frog It” last April, Fantasmes delivered a dose of elation with a wink — something followers of the Puerto Rican psych rock band likely weren’t expecting. Slow-burning trips guided by lethargic, gritty guitar meltdowns are their thing, for the most part.
Today, Fantasmes unveil the video for that single, confirming with visuals what we noticed in sound already: They’re being a little funny.
At first glance, the clip for “Frog It” is a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of Taino petroglyph-like paintings that looks as if it happened by accident — as if they’d been videotaped in the 80s. This might be the heat-warped VHS unearthed from a musty basement last week.
It was designed in collaboration with Sebastian Rivera, an artist and longtime friend of frontman Mario Negrón. Rivera says they were going for “an aesthetic that challenges the viewer to pay attention and find and reach the beauty, gold, with the sole purpose of letting go and reaching the outer realms of being.”
Don’t let the flowery transcendentalism fool you, though. Right after that, Rivera says, “So frog it!”
Look a little closer at those warbled drawings. The lizards and snakes seem to be smiling. There’s a crab (we think) in there, as well as a cat. And it’s not an elegant cat. This one has five eyes, and he too is wearing a sly grin.
The way the wavy and grainy effects were weaved into the artwork is stunning. “We transferred the digital video to VHS tape and back to digital, affecting colors and movement on the way. We gave the video a ‘sound’ treatment, saturating to tape, delays, phasing, flanging…from digital to analog, analog to digital,” explains guitarist Darío Morales.
He called that process taking Rivera’s work “into the Frog It realm,” and later noted that the correct stylization of the phrase is in green font. Whenever possible, he pleads, write “Frog It” in a green font.
We like this elevated weirdness from Fantasmes. Psych rock often carries a heavy vibe, and this brand of humor lightens things up in the right way. It’s slightly bewildering, of course. Not a lot of it makes sense to an outsider, but we’re not sure there’s even any insider logic to be learned. Maybe absurdness is part of its appeal. So stay droll, guys. And Frog It! (We think?)