Old Favourites: Tool – “Parabola”

“We barely remember who or what came before this precious moment…”

This edition of Old Favourites was written by Jimmy Reilly, who will be an extra pair of hands on board Y,WGAV! Please make him feel welcome!


Sometimes I question the wisdom in broadcasting videos at 2:15 am.  A sane man would not be able to comprehend some of the stuff that Rage throw at us that late at night.  In this vein, this week’s video is Tool’s Parabola, which could be titled “What The Fuck Was That?!?: The Music Video”.

The song itelf comes from the 2001 release Lateralus, which is a brilliant album and a landmark release for Maynard and the boys.  Of course, the song itself has little to do with this, frankly, terrifying film clip.  Like most of Adam Jones‘ work, it’s mostly stop-motion.  We open with a shot of barbed red blood cells circling around each other with an ominous droning soundtrack crying underneath it, and then things get creepy.

The first part of the film clip is actually to Parabol, which is a separate track on the album.  Three guys from the Superman Lovers film clip are dressed in suits and ceramoniously unpack what looks like a butter knife.  if you look closely,you can see one of them scratch their nose in one of the single most terrifying uncanny valley moments in history. This is immediately followed by an apple appearing out of the table, being cut in half and watching as the seed star grows points.  One of the Superman Lovers holds his finger up, it catches fire, everybody levitates, everybody vomits, hands come out of nowhere and the track proper starts.

I really hope that made sense to you, because things are just gonna get stranger from here on out.  I’d like you to meet Earl.  He lives in a hospital worshop thing (with Tricky!) and apparently has a mechanical face. Tricky’s job is to push over slabs of stone, that then shatter, fly to the corner and then up the wall, and to look after a tree of life that is very obviously supposed to look like veins.  Tricky is very devoted to his job, because he doesn’t notice when Earl tries to warn him about the killer collection of spheres floating in mid air, which then rapes Earl to death.  Tricky then screams FUCK at the orbs, slices Earl in two DOWN THE FUCKING MIDDLE and goes for a walk in the forest.  Just when you thought things couldn’t be any wierder, Tricky looks at a leaf.  Said leaf catches fire, burns his skin off, and transports him to a world filled with freaky eyeballs where he assumes the role of The Shacras.

Okay.  What the hell did I just watch?  I would love to give you some kind of deep analyisis, but part of what make Tool so brilliant is their emphasis on self interpretation.  The film clip means only as much as you think it means.  Personally, I think it means Tool like fucking with our heads. More important than that, this film clip does everything a film clip does.  It completely suckers you in.  Once it starts, you can’t look away.  As an added bonus, its story (he says using the term loosely) is nearly exactly the opposite of the lyrics to the song, which is always a nice touch.  A great introduction to a great band.


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