The Great Dictators have an appreciation for the evocative of both simplicity and complexity. In the clip for the tactile and candid song “By the Throat”, the Danish band had directors Bjørn Rosenquist and Auto Slug Lizard Gag take on the challenge of bringing to life their dynamic track.
The result is an ode to Ingmar Bergman’s Winter Light and a celebration of the poetic nuance of model Mawa Abdillahi. The camera remains steady on Abdillahi’s face for 95% of the video, with jarring cuts to hands and words that leave you feeling unsteady in the most exciting way. The song pulses around the steady image of Abdillahi lip-syncing. The bass picks up and the strumming guitar adds an organic flare.
But it is in the crunch of the machinery sounds — experimental in tone and working towards an intensity — that the song works most powerfully. Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu was an influence for The Great Dictators before he signed on to work with them on “By the Throat”, and the pairing works to give the song a razor’s edge ambiance.
At the end of the video, Abdillahi’s expression changes and for a moment you are unsure whether she is laughing or crying. Either reaction feels appropriate, and the viewer is left with the sense that this song now has you, blissfully, in its grasp.