Narrative Techniques via Alt J’s “Breezeblocks”

In spite of the violent content of Alt J’s “Breezeblocks”, I’m intrigued by the storytelling techniques used in both the song and its video. The video starts with a killing, and by going in reverse slo-mo reveals the moments leading up to it. The percussive and rhythmic elements of the song build and release tension, and it’s sometimes whimsical tones (especially the xylophone) create dissonance with the dark lyrics, and perhaps reinforce the contrast with the narrator’s professed love and his desire to “eat her whole.”

I’m trying to figure out how to transfer these techniques into writing. What stories could be told more powerfully in reverse? (Memento comes to mind, but this is also a film). Can you effectively capture a sense of reversed time in the written form, especially when individual scenes typically move forwards in time? I’m also thinking about how we can use words and sentences to create contrasting textures and rhythms, to reinforce the building and releasing of tension in the stories we tell.

Warning: Both the video and the song are disturbing–the lyrics reveal a narrator who is unhinged and sociopathically obsessive, probably murderous. The video’s core theme is violence, primarily against women.

One Comment

  1. Andrew Hathorn

    The fact that the video goes in reverse adds a dimension to the creepy vibe. With the band singing in a vocal tone of disturbing sound as the video goes backwards you see how the man acted his violence on the woman, and the violence didn’t go beyond the drowning. By showing you the end result and going back it eliminates the suspense and brings forth the aspect of reversal and where did this all begin instead of where and how is this going to end. The video and song although disturbing go together really well and compliment each other. The song “The Scientist” by Coldplay has a very similar music video that is played in rewind mode but it deals with a car crash, perhaps it may be more appealing to a general audience.

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