Rachelle Garniez, "Pressure Drop"
I was delighted when Rachelle Garniez asked me to produce a short film, something like but not like a music video, to illustrate her cover of Toots & The Maytals "Pressure Drop." Frederick "Toots" Hibbert composed and released "Pressure Drop" in 1968. It is one of the most widely covered reggae hits, by a long shot. The rhythm is bouncy and hooks are simplicity itself, the stuff of the catchiest pop music. The lyrics are focused, at once plaintive and a punch to the gut in the original version, delivered with an an honest intensity rather than driving anger. The latter comes famously comes across in the punk cover by The Clash. Rachelle recorded a meditative acoustic version, one that leads us to sit with the karmic message at the heart of the song, during the 2020 pandemic. Her sense that our collective perception of time being stretched or uprooted comes across in the unexpected softness of her delivery, which led me to think about how to play with time in this sequence of stills and video. (In fact, the entire video, including the time lapse sequences, are all still images, thousands of them, stitched together.) Toots passed away that year and this began as a tribute to him. Then, after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin — now convicted — murdered George Floyd, Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country. They built on the pressures we all felt during lockdown and the recent years of anti-authoritarian organizing and protest in the U.S. More than that, years, decades, and centuries of enslavement, oppression, and endless abuses suffered by the Black community at the hands of white supremacist government and culture — as well as civil rights organizing — all came to a head. Almost one year later, people are still in the streets. The work is far from over, but it is hard to ignore the truth that we, the people, are the ones who can bend the arc of history toward justice, that justice will demand both accountability and reparations, and that the costs of continued, systemic violence, oppression, and exploitation of Black and Brown peoples will be heavy, indeed.
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