Phantom Payn Days is the latest project from kraut rocker and 39 Clocks member Juergen Gleue. Although his LSD-infused sound is relevant to the psychedelia flourishing today, he is perhaps a forgotten hero of latter day (or early ’80s) kraut rock. In “Paradox Box”, Gleue takes us back to the Pandora myth, here accompanied by the muted visuals of video artist Tara Sinn, who has also done visuals for Blues Control and Mike Bones. Gleue’s matter-of-fact delivery and thick German accent paint a lyrical picture of a box that seems simple enough on the outside; once opened, however, it has the power to alter the world in a dramatic way. We see this in the recurring black and white image of a box drenched in fractured light that is continually manipulated by a mysterious hand. With each turn of the box, the resulting colored images are altered somewhat. Sinn’s imagery is abstract, beautiful, and certainly easy to get lost in.
While the “Pandora’s Box” myth has most commonly been used as a warning about the potential of unleashing evil on the world, the “Paradox Box” seems to be something much more ambiguous and enticing. I read it as a metaphor for our ability to enact change through one simple action. In some cases this could be disastrous, but it can also lead to the most exciting and heightened moments in life. In the video the box is shifted and turned like a knob, but never opened, yielding an effective tension. If these tiny shifts are enough to generate such patterns, imagine how explosive the contents within must be. It certainly is ominous, but it kind’ve makes me want to “take a walk inside and get an electric shock.”