British songstress Beth Orton is back with a new single “Magpie” in advance of her upcoming album, Sugar Season, but there’s nothing sweet about this clip which follows Orton wandering lost through the desert. Unlike the tendency music videos have to romanticize being stuck in an endless pile of sand (Madonna, Destiny’s Child, we’re looking at you), Orton embraces the grim landscape, appearing as lone traveller or possibly even a mirage, caught in “heat strokes, hallucinations and magic”.
Sigur Ros collaborators Arni & Kinski put together a hauntingly beautiful ode to the desert, as Orton traces strings of black feathers and rope and evokes a nomadic sensibility. The song itself is reminiscent of fellow smart-lady songwriters such as Cat Power or Bat For Lashes‘ Natasha Khan, whom Orton has borrowed some witchy wonderment from in both lyrical and visual form. As well as mixing elements of mystical and raw moments within the clip, Arni & Kinski layer images roughly against each other, overlapping and splitting the frame. The final clip almost feels like found footage, a spectral moment captured on camera.
Both bewitching and haunting, the clip is a darker step for Orton, but we’re perfectly okay with seeing more of it, even if that involves following her into the desert and getting our supernatural on.