Today AP is stoked to premiere the weirdest post-punk, psychedelic, ecological video we’ve seen in a long time, and it’s made by bona fide punk lifers. “What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Away” is the title track from the new album from legendary Manchester, U.K.-based post-punk/indie-noise unit the Membranes.
“The latest Membranes video from our acclaimed new album was filmed in Berlin by Danielle de Picciotto and her husband Alexander Hacke,” founder/bassist/frontman John Robb says. (Industrial-rock fans will recognize Hacke as the guitarist in iconic German demolition outfit Einstürzende Neubauten) “Danielle really captures the theme of the song: the transient nature of life and the beauty and cruelty of nature, the hunter and the hunted and the powerful erotic undertows that affect plants and animals.”
The clip juxtaposes images of beauty in the world against one another, such as giraffes and goldfish hanging out with stunning women seemingly transported from London’s Carnaby Street in 1968. And then you’ve got Robb’s interpretive dancing and handsome looks making a strong argument for potential punk lifers to look as sharp in 2030 as he does now. No kidding: His cosmic-hippie dance moves might be the best ones your eccentric punk uncle can still pull off, but if anyone can make a mohawk look like a GQ-endorsed fashion trend, it’s Robb.
Captivated by the British punk scene at an early age, Robb started the Membranes in the late ’70s, coming up through a generation that also included such notables as Echo & The Bunnymen, the Mekons and the Sisters Of Mercy. Throughout the ’80s, the band created a body of work that significantly affected the fulcrums of the American noise-rock scene (Sonic Youth, Big Black) at the time. In 1990, Robb put the band on ice, later resuscitating it in 2010 at the request of alt-rock titans My Bloody Valentine in order to play a festival with them. In 2019, the Membranes are enjoying their highest accolades in their history with What Natures Gives… Nature Takes Away—which says something about the vision and attitude about the band’s leader.
Robb has cut an interesting figure in the world punk community. In addition to the Membranes’ contributions to the underground, Robb dived into Northern soul tropes fronting the stunning Goldblade. On the literary side, not only was he a respected journalist for many of the British music publications of the ’80s, he wrote and compiled Punk Rock: An Oral History, a crucial, on-point tome that was celebrated by both bands and the people who were there when that history was happening. In addition to being U.K. television’s “punk pundit” of choice, Robb also presides over the magazine and website Louder Than War, scoping out new bands with the same fervor he did when he was paying his dues 40 years ago.
Oh and another thing: Robb is straight edge, so if you can’t wrap your head around any aspect of the video, rest assured that it comes from a healthy creative spirit and not from the introduction of substances. Enjoy the trip.