Mark Kozelek’s new collection, Like Rats, finds the Sun Kil Moon frontman reimagining songs by a host of artists whom he’s never before covered — Misfits, Godflesh, etc. — as well as a few whose work he’s already put his stamp on. Among the latter group is ’70s prog gods Yes, whose “Long Distance Runaround” was initially recorded as a somber acoustic lament for Red House Painters’ 1995 LP, Ocean Beach (the song appeared only on the vinyl edition of the album); later, a robust electric version of that cover was included on the band’s 1996 LP, Songs For A Blue Guitar. For Like Rats, Kozelek offers a stark, devastating version of Yes’s 1978 ballad “Onward,” the video for which we’ve got here, now. The clip — “directed” by Kozelek — appears to be little more than a iPhone recording of a harbor, across which a ship slowly makes its way. That’s it; there’s no narrative, no editing, even. But it’s an effective piece of video when paired with the hugely beautiful song. Rather than insert an unwanted meaning into his imagery, Kozelek allows the viewer to simply meditate with the music, engaging an additional sense, but keeping the focus on the song. Considering how many times I’ve stood at the edge of the sea, staring aimlessly outward and dreaming, while Kozelek’s music played on my headphones, I must say, he’s pretty accurately captured my experience of listening to his music. Watch.
Like Rats is out now via Caldo Verde.