Harriet Brown ‘Paradisiac’ (Official Video)
Oakland multi-instrumentalist Aaron Valenzuela, better known under the stage name HARRIET BROWN, makes velvety slow-burners that just don’t quit and seems to draw Prince comparisons in every piece written about him.
So it’s only natural that the video for his track ‘Paradisiac’ (directed by Mike Harris) is affably, affectionately ridiculous and completely, unquestionably OTT while still, somehow, remaining ambivalently cool. Is it camp? Yeah, of course it’s camp. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s fresh and it’s surprisingly self-aware.
The video comes loaded with the kind of overzealous iconography usually associated with Nineties R&B: more religious symbols than a Black Milk ensemble; purple-filtered tight shots on Brown’s neat bowl cut; guitars reflected in the golden lens of hexagonal sunglasses; the hazy silhouettes of girls dancing sensuously. With each watch (and I’ve watched it more times than I care to admit) you’ll discover another nuance of this video to enjoy.
Be sure to note Brown’s unerringly serious expression – it takes a certain level of commitment to an authentic schtick to remain suitably perplexed and unfazed throughout four minutes of over-enunciating, mugging for the camera, hand choreography and guitar solos literally backlit like a religious experience.
Irrespective of whether or not it’s meant to be taken seriously, it gives a layer of humour to an infectious, intensely funky track that’s somehow both reminiscent of the past and contemporary, simultaneously. It’s a sexy cocktail of drum machines, guitar and synth – all played by Brown – coursing under sleepy vocals, resulting in something that Brown himself describes as “romantic funk”. Fans of acts like Toro Y Moi and Twin Shadow will undoubtedly find something to love here.
Brown’s debut EP, ‘New Era’ can be streamed now on Soundcloud. It’s also available for purchase digitially on iTunes and on cassette in limited numbers. (Cassette purchases include unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.)
Words by Cheryl Billman.