Breaking Down the New 100 gecs Music Video

The enigmatic storyline of remix album Tree of Clues is revealed in 100 gecs’ explosively whimsical new music video for “hand crushed by a mallet (Remix) [feat. Fall Out Boy, Craig Owens, Nicole Dollanganger].” Combining 2D and 3D animation and live sets, the new video explores the universe of Tree of Clues’ creation myth, following Rankus the rat as he flees the grotesque Dooom Shroom with the keys to the twilight fir.

The video was animated by Dario Alva, who has also worked with Adult Swim, Nike, Post Malone and Lady Gaga. He’s known for his surrealist animations and crisp, futuristic digital art. Alva also directed along with Weston Allen, a musician and director who has worked on other videos for 100 gecs and for Dorian Electra, The Garden, Pussy Riot, and Mood Killer, among others.

With its bright and frenetic visuals and surreal atmosphere, it can be difficult to tell what’s going on. But a look through the official lore of Tree of Clues shows that we’re dealing with some familiar characters. The video opens on the Mewn, the moon of the “glade where time stands still,” the Tree of Clues universe. It then pans down to a glass of white liquid—the sap of the twilight fir (aka the 1000 gecs tree), which the Mewn must consume in order to avoid falling down. We then see Dooom Shroom, a mutated mushroom being sporting a pointed cap reminiscent of the one Dylan Brady sometimes wears. In the original myth, Dooom Shroom is dispatched by Gorgesus, the titan guardian of the fir, to catch Rankus the rat after he steals the tree’s sap from the Mewn. However, the new video has Dooom Shroom guarding one of the keys to the fir. After Rankus, also known as rat fucker, steals the key, Dooom Shroom begins pursuit.

The chase continues down a well and through a variety of environments—a warehouse, a video game, an enchanted forest, a world of junk a la Labyrinth. At several moments we see a grim reaper-like figure in the background wielding a large sword. This is Cold Steel, a mysterious entity described by the lore only as having “evil plans.” It is unclear whether he is trying to help Rankus, although he does attack and injure Dooom Shroom with his blade. Throughout the video, we also see several motifs that are present on various pieces of gecs merch: puzzle pieces from the Tree of Clues hoodie and Lore Longsleeve, a magnifying glass from the ARG Tee, and of course, Rankus and the Mewn from the Rankus Mewn Tee. Then there’s the hourglass and Rankus’s telekinetic hammer. All of the video’s key players are also present on the Tree of Clues album cover, as shown below:

Edit of the 100 Gecs and the Tree of Clues album cover that labels the characters depicted on it

Album Cover by Darío Alva

Graphic by Nic Johnson, Zoe Axelrod

As stated earlier, the video’s storyline doesn’t follow the official lore exactly. In the original, Dooom Shroom’s death at the roots of the fir triggers her to awaken, releasing the keys, which did not exist before. Rankus then uses a key to unlock the tree, which releases its power and brings all human life into existence. This event is described very sexually: Rankus “penetrate[s] the keyhole in the tree’s wonderland,” which offers one view of Tree of Clues as a creation myth, with Rankus as the “universe father” and the twilight fir as the “universe mother.” You could also compare Rankus to Prometheus, stealing a substance (the sap) only intended for the gods (Mewn and the titan Gorgesus) and advancing humankind because of it. Whatever your take, the gecs avoid contradicting their own storyline by having Rankus awaken from a dream at the video’s end. This positions the video as a prequel to the existing lore, and indicates that in this universe, the lore’s key players are bound together by fate, or maybe that Rankus is a prophetic dreamer.

Visually, the video is stunning. Breathtaking and overwhelmingly intricate, it leaves something new to discover even after repeat viewings. Familiar characters, settings and objects are hidden in the delightfully rich background scenery. Characters move jerkily, unnaturally, like puppets, which only adds to the charm. While being thematically distinct from each other, the high energy of the song matches the video’s chaos perfectly. Individual visual sections emphasize the song’s many style changes. It’s an incredibly well-crafted experience, and the time and thought put into its creation stand out at every turn. With their new music video, 100 gecs have given us a fascinating look into their charmingly aggressive creative world.

You can watch the official video for “hand crushed by a mallet (Remix) [feat. Fall Out Boy, Craig Owens, Nicole Dollanganger]” here. Warning: the video contains sequences of bright flashing lights.

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