Philtre, a solo producer act (like Primary) is a part of Amoeba Culture’s roster of artists. His latest production, “Last Scene” features rapping from Choiza of Dynamic Duo and vocals from Lim Kim. The music video stars a young female ballet dancer who ends up breaking down from the different types of pressure she faces–both internal and external. The turmoil the female undergoes in the MV while striving for perfection brings to mind parallelism to the type of anxiety young Korean students face in the high stakes examination system in Korea.
First of all, the production on this song is complex. Multitudes of well intended layers are interlaced over a sparse beat and piano melody. Choiza’s rapping is slower paced with an emphasis on syllabic pronunciation. The beat drop after the second chorus is immense and the synth arpeggios are successful in raking up the tension. The emotion in Choiza’s verse after the breakdown is especially heightened. His apprehension approaches explosive proportions during his last few lines in the song but recedes right before the end halting his emotion before implosion. The timbre in Lim Kim’s voice is absolutely magnificent and well showcased on this track. The quality of her voice is able to express a tenderness and vulnerability that is exquisite. The sonic landscape of this track is atmospheric and moody. The lyrics express coping with the painful fallout at the end of a relationship.
The video is subtly elaborate. Texture is an especially prominent component. The wave-like folds stand out on the long plastic sheet which is laid over the ground that the young ballerina walks upon. The message is inherently written in the billowing sheets: the ballerina must traipse carefully in a convoluted yet uncertain space. This apprehension in the girl is something she easily experiences firsthand while performing in front of others and is also something she internalizes while she is alone. In one particular scene, she lies down in a fetal position, grimacing against the ripples of the white sheet. Her exhaustion at achieving perfection is quiet, but we can see that it is slowly enveloping her.
The use of the revolving Plexiglas square helps to further drive home how the force of the externalized pressure is affecting her. The young girl in her ballet dress swivels around with her leg held up in a perfect pose. Lights from the colored block pillars surround her representing the attention placed on her from a third party. The close up shot is utilized heavily while she revolves. The idea of the flawless revolving ballerina is contrasted against her discontent demeanor. The addition of her ragged, neglected doll alludes to her uneven emotional state. She is starting to become an emotional mess.
When the girl practices her dancing, it is in the room filled with angular mirrors. To master ballet is the end goal as the girl continually works to refine her craft. The lighting shifts signify the passing of time. The subsequent hours allocated towards honing her craft has driven her to practice displaced of the extremity of time. Her sense of self is lost as ballet consumes her life.
The burden of performance and perfection come to a boiling point during the song’s climactic synth breakdown. From darkness, hands reach out over the shoulders of the girl. These hands are highly symbolic and open to interpretation: Do they embody the control and opinion of society, parents, teachers, coaches, bosses, and/or all of the above? No matter what they represent, the message is evident during the MV’s conclusion. The girl rubs off her fake lashes and smears her lipstick, vestiges of the construction constraining her, before screaming and letting one teardrop fall down her cheek. She is done being controlled by the societal bounds and pressures.
The music video does a remarkable job at exploring the societal burdens placed on Korean youth. Whether it is in dance, academia, or other activities, the relentless pursuit of the prized ideal image or being the best can at times become problematic and cause the Korean youth to suffer. Overall, the MV does an excellent job of presenting a poignant story with great editing and well chosen set pieces.
MV Rating: 4.5/5
(Amoeba Culture, YouTube)