Let’s crack this moniker right open: SM Jenkins is the same pseudonym donned by Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus on the cover of their album Wowee Zowee. This time though, there’s no Stephen Malkmus staring down this guitar – it’s home-grown Step Panther frontman, Stephen Bourke, gone solo.
High Beamin’ is the newest single from Step Panther’s Stephen Bourke – aka S M Jenkins – and its brand new video is a dangerously hypnotising piece of stop motion magic. Ye be warned.
High Beamin’ is hurled straight out of Bourke’s hypnotic, introspective debut six-track EP, Out There In The Zone, which was released earlier this year.
In true artist form, it was written and recorded over the course of a year at his house in enviable solitude in Mittagong, edged into being with the help of long, after-dark drives, wilderness bush walks and, naturally, The Simpsons.
High Beamin’ is the second track plucked from the EP to make it to video – the first, Mikrowave, premiered back in February.
It’s the former of his album’s influences – those late night drives – that are the crux of the video, which is a stop motion clip of Bourke’s creation. It’s all done out in eerie blacks and whites and greys, hand-drawn lines and masses of fonts, picking out lyrics from the song to appear on road signs that wriggle their way around the screen.
It’s all fittingly mesmerising and contemplative – that idea of time passing and not passing all at once (driving, remember?) and a hand-drawn road pulses as if heavy trucks are shaking the tarmac while flat, nondescript scenery is rolling endlessly past.
“This video is a sneaky peek into the darkness and the lightness of the endless realm,” Bourke warns us. “Don’t get hypnotised by the mono-beams or you could be trapped forever!”
Just when you’re starting to wonder what mono-beams he’s talking about, a hand crawls its way out of a microwave that’s definitely on fire, and edges back in – a nod to Bourke’s first video – and it all gets pretty surreal and weird from then on in, as some cactuses get involved, and a USB drive, and the metal blades of a staple remover, which chomp down like crocodile teeth and dance around.
The tune is laid back, sauntering its haunting, reverb-soaked way along, laid over with scratchy vocals, and you’re left with this strangely intimate feeling, as if you’ve snuck into the back of Bourke’s car and are spying on him, but are too entranced and too immersed to get out again. He did warn you.
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