FKA Twigs, in just a few short years, has etched herself in the pantheon of music artists whose mastery of the music video form is so complete – cerebral and visceral, artistic and primal – that it’s part of their native tongue. Think Madonna in her prime, Bjork still, Missy Elliott forever. And yesterday, with the release of the short film / music video anthology that accompanied her M3LL155X EP, Twigs settles in right alongside them. Other contemporary music artists occasionally make interesting, even arresting, clips to accompany their tracks, but almost no one else hits the high water mark as consistently, no one else conveys such a precise and singular artistic (as opposed to brand) vision. Twigs’ only contemporary equal (so far) is Belgian superstar Stromae.
Taken as a whole, the sixteen and a half minute short is about fertility and fecundity, the power of the feminine (whether the actual body be male or female) and Twigs tapping into her own feminine strengths. It’s about the process of creativity – its conception, which can be messy, sordid, unpleasant, and then what you do with all that in the process of creating. And after you’ve given birth, how do you pull personal triumph and artistic beauty from it all? With that in mind, it makes sense why Twigs is so attracted to ball culture, why she’s surrounded herself with a team of platinum-level voguing artists (as well as krump dancers and b-boys and b-girls.) It helps explain what led her to cast visual icon/kickass muse Michèle Lamy as the focal point of opening track, “Figure 8.”
“Figure 8” kicks things off with Lamy in her signature gear – heavily jeweled and inked, gold caps on many of her teeth; she’s the fortune-teller/soothsayer with an otherworldly vibe. As the camera zooms in and out on her, it blurs, elongates and distorts her face, perching her somewhere between menacing and merely unsettling. Throughout the clip Twigs’ high-pitched vocals (“Let me live…”) snake over a broodingly dark electronic landscape that’s girded by thudding beats.
In the next segment, as Twigs sings “Wind me up, I’m a doll / dress me up, I’m a doll / love me rough, I’m your doll…,” the camera swings to a bed where a plastic blow-up doll lies spread-eagle. The doll has Twig’s head. She looks anxiously into the camera while singing, and as a chubby guy in a sweat suit approaches the bed, unzips, climbs on top, and thrusts. But the scene isn’t really sexual (or even about sexual degradation.) It evokes something of Scarlett Johannson’s entrancingly off-kilter film Under the Skin, in which a beautiful woman picks up random strange men for sex, with an ulterior motive beyond mere coupling. The clip’s next, finds a heavily pregnant Twigs in silk pajamas, dancing on a Spartan sci-fi set, interspersed with shots of her dancing with two b-girls, the choreography being what you might get if ball legend Willi Ninja and acclaimed choreographer Fatima Robinson were leading classes for Alvin Ailey. The final segment, which brings it all together, is the clip for “Glass & Patron,” previously reviewed on Crave, and one of the best videos of 2015.
The EP was co-produced by Twigs and BOOTS, as well as her frequent collaborators tic and Cy An.