Hospital Ships Summons A Weird And Sinister Ritual

Hospital Ships' album, Destruction In Yr Soul, is out now. (Adam Smith/Courtesy of the artist)
Hospital Ships’ album, Destruction In Yr Soul, is out now. (Adam Smith/Courtesy of the artist)

In one of the opening shots in Hospital Ships’ new video, we see two people cutting up a dark purple fruit into tiny pieces and dropping it into a well full of darkened liquid. It appears to be an odd sacrifice, and it leads to something far weirder and unsettling.

Set to “Servants,” a winding and explosive new song on Hospital Ships’ latest album Destruction In Yr Soul, the bizarre and colorful video depicts its two characters — one dressed in a buffalo suit and another in an ornately embellished handmade headdress not unlike the feathery costumes worn by Mardi Gras Indians — going through a series of escalating actions: From lustful consumption to sex to violence and death, only to start over again.

“My initial inspiration for the video,” frontman Jordan Geiger writes, “was a comment Swans drummer Thor Harris made to me about the Vikings conception of heaven being a place where feasting, f—–g, and fighting to the death took place every day until the ultimate dissolution of the soul into nothing. In the video, me and [bandmate] Taylor don costumes and partake in a similar ritual. We were influenced by creation myths of various cultures and the video stylings of Tim and Eric as well.”

“Servants” — one of Destruction In Yr Soul‘s best tracks — majestically sprawls and naturally builds to these chaotic yet joyful bursts of fuzzed-out guitars and pummelling drums, that seem to align perfectly with the increasingly provocative and transcendent visuals in the video.

While Hospital Ships began mostly as a bedroom solo side-project for Geiger, a veteran of Lawrence, Kan. bands Minus Story and The Appleseed Cast, as well as a former member of Shearwater, it is now functioning as a full band. And where his imaginative songs once toggled between buoyant orchestral pop, intimate folk songs and full-on blown-speaker rockers, the new alignment allows his well-crafted melodies to fray around the edges.

It’s an evolution for Geiger and Hospital Ships, resulting in a messier, more lived-in sound that benefits from the infusion of energy and experimentation that comes with playing songs live with a group.

This colorful and sinister short film is the work of Geiger in collaboration with artist Andy Byers — Geiger’s childhood friend and former Minus Story bandmate — known for collaborating with Isabella Rosselini on her Green Porno videos. Geiger and Hospital Ships also collaborated with The Invisible Hand Gallery and the University of Kansas Film Department, and it was edited by Rachel Helling of QBF Productions in Kansas City, Mo.