Steelism’s “Marfa Lights” Might Blind You With Science


Guitar-crazy duo Steelism have been doing some very important scientific research with their debut album, 615 to Fame, helping to unlock the mysteries of the instrumental-music universe.

And in their clever new video for the string-bending “Marfa Lights,” Jeremy Fetzer and Spencer Cullum Jr. show off what they’ve found using an standard technique in grade-school classrooms everywhere — the dreaded educational video.

“The video was heavily inspired by my fascination with 1970s BBC science videos,” Cullum told NPR. “At school, they would wheel in an old TV and play these quirky, unemotional science vids. They would also have this weird ’70s workshop synth music to accompany the videos. There’s a great comedy program called Look Around You that mocked that kind of media. So we weren’t the first to try it out, but I like to think we’ve done it in our own way with the help of the talented Stewart Copeland directing.”

Bathed in eye-melting Technicolor, the guys throw on some lab coats and do their best stoic-scientist, measuring the various components of music using bandmates Jon Radford and Michael Rinne as their ambivalent guinea pigs. Eventually, they just can’t resist the natural attraction to a spaghetti-western melody, pulsing rhythm and spacey overtones, ditching their roles as impartial observers and jumping in to the experiment themselves.

Let Steelism enrich your understanding of musical science with the video for “Marfa Lights.”