One of the characteristics that has come to define M.I.A. is the visual opulence and overt political nature of her music videos. Which is why her latest, for the Skrillex-produced single “Go Off” dropped just last night, is something of an anomaly. It features nothing more than shots of a desolate quarry being lit with explosion after explosion of dynamite, all filmed in a style that is objectively matter-of-fact.
Her previous visuals, like the highly, highly controversial “Born Free” from 2010 and “Borders” from this past December, are decadent in their production and wholly transparent in their message. The former visual was a ten-minute short film depicting racial genocide, the latter a pointed statement regarding the ongoing migrant crisis in a heavily choreographed manner. “Go Off” then, seems particularly mysterious. It is the first of her visuals to feature no human subjects, comprised solely of these shots of rocks exploding. The message behind this video? It could be about environmental issues, or rapid urbanization or something that will remain entirely unknown.
Musically, the track is deceptively simple, incorporating all of the sonic aesthetics of an M.I.A. jam: namely, Bollywood samples, autotune chanting and swagger for days. But the track is given an added depth from the production by Skrillex, introducing a significantly darker tone to the seemingly innocent instruction to ‘go off on them.’ A depth made even more significant upon her recent admission that she is planning for her upcoming fifth album, A.I.M., to be her final one. She’s been one of the most-watched artists of the millennium, and after creating a work that removes her from the spotlight entirely, one can’t help but feel that some kind of end is at hand.
A.I.M. is out on September 9, stay tuned to see what comes next.
In other music news, French techno-duo Justice has just released their first new music in five years.