Death Valley Girls’ new video for ‘Sanitarium Blues’ is taken from the LA band’s soon-to-be re-issued debut album Street Venom and provides the perfect psychedelic back-drop to the dystopian doom-rockers’ take on honest suffering. The track flew onto paper following vocalist Bonnie Bloomgarden’s stay at a professional institution amidst a serious battle with her mental health. The revival of this track as an uplifting and life-affirming reminder that there will be better days could not be better timed.
The release of a new video for this single serves as the perfect throwback to the LA-based group’s most authentic and direct work. The new video, directed by Wiktor Lekston, captures the band’s intention to depict a mental episode as an out-of-body experience through a mixture of surreal and hallucinogenic inspirations. This is produced through a series of repeated fuzzy holographic images created in analog and intensified by the feedback signals. You can’t quite put your finger on what it is you’re looking at – everything from skeletons and non-lifelike faces, through to what appears to be memories merged with dreams, have been compared by Lektston to the “POST-MTV’s clips from the ’80s.” The band’s aim to visually capture an astral projection, without necessarily directly conveying that to the audience, is a huge success.
Scuzzy guitars from Bloomgarden and guitarist Larry Schemel, married with a transcendent use of reverb and delay as the chords ring out throughout the verse, provokes an apocalyptic and lucid-dream state in the mind of the listener. We’re then thrown into a starkly contrasting chorus filled with propelling riffs and a deliberately sinister beat from Patty Schemel on the kit that confines us; it’s claustrophobic, lonely and the perfect sonic portrayal of how isolating a mental illness can truly be. BUT it’s not all gloom from the doom-punk outfit, as there is hope and reassurance in this track’s honesty and also in Bloomgarden’s message ahead of the re-issue:
“Life is hard, but you are not meant to suffer… There are lots of places to get help. It just seems hard to find sometimes… Realising that you are not meant to suffer (no one is!) and seeking help is so huge. Do it ‘cause you deserve it! A healthy you can change the world! And the world deserves your healthiest you, too.”
Street Venom, the re-issue, is set for release on 30th July and will consist of a deluxe edition of the album available both digitally and on vinyl, courtesy of Suicide Squeeze Records. Pre-order here.
Photo Credit: Mara Breene