ZEN TV
by Various Artists

— Released 26th January 2004

Welcome to ZenTV.

Since the mid-nineties and the groundbreaking Stealth parties at the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, Ninja has been almost as well respected for its engagement with visuals as it has for its audio. The two came together on this massive retrospective of almost a decade of experimentation, innovation, humour and weirdness.

Let’s get the spec out of the way first.

The ZenTV DVD has twice the capacity of a normal DVD, containing as it does 35 promo videos from th...

Welcome to ZenTV.

Since the mid-nineties and the groundbreaking Stealth parties at the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, Ninja has been almost as well respected for its engagement with visuals as it has for its audio. The two came together on this massive retrospective of almost a decade of experimentation, innovation, humour and weirdness.

Let’s get the spec out of the way first.

The ZenTV DVD has twice the capacity of a normal DVD, containing as it does 35 promo videos from the label, a fifteen minute audiovisual mix and a 30 minutes audio mix from Hexstatic. And as if that wasn’t enough, the DVD has a menu system which means you can watch the videos either in the order we intended, randomly, or chronologically from the oldest to the newest or the newest to the oldest. You can also look up any specific act and check out their videos and album art. Or just leave a gallery of some of Ninja’s finest covers running in the corner of the room as a kind of ambient art installation dahlink… Mwah.

But that just scratches the surface, really, 'cos after all, in the kingdom of the blind, content is king. Or something like that. You know the music is going to be good (we hope you know the music is going to be good), but what about the visuals?

Well, one advantage with not having hit records (Coldcut’s 'Beats & Pieces' remains our one top forty for 12 years work) is that you don’t have to worry about getting your promos shown on any of those hellholes of visual mediocrity where all the bands have to look fabulous and if they don’t, well you better make sure you put some models in there who do…instead, you can be (whisper it) creative.

Which is why some of the top up-and-coming names in video direction and animation, including established directors like Alexander Rutterford (Amon Tobin, now working for Radiohead), Sam Arthur (DJ Vadim) as well as young turks like Conkerko (Bonobo) have worked for Ninja. Because they know that if they pitch an interesting, visually striking, innovative idea, they will be left to get on with it without interference. Fizzy Eye made their first music video for Wagon Christ (the truly excellent 'Receiver') and have since gone on to do commercials for Honda, proving that a track record with Ninja doesn’t ruin your business prospects.

Beyond this, artists like Kid Koala and Jaga Jazzist often even commission their own videos, working with close associates to find the perfect match between their sound and the director’s vision. There are artists on the label who are intimately involved in the creation of their own videos, whether it’s the Scruff cartoons that make up the basis of his Cosgrove Hall-animated 'Sweet Smoke,' the pioneering audiovisual cut-ups of Hexstatic and Coldcut, Funki Porcini’s satires of adverts or his weird, otherworldly concrete moving abstracts.

Overall, since those early audiovisual mash-ups, the driving force behind all of Ninja’s visual work has been that the video is not merely an unrelated promo item to sell a single but should be intimately related to the sounds it represents. The budgets may be small, some results may be more effective than others, but there’s no denying that the attempts to realise this ideal are never less than interesting.

Are you sitting comfortably?

ZEN TV
by Various Artists

— Released 26th January 2004

Buy physical

DVD (ZENDV85PAL)
£13.00
 

Buy physical

DVD (ZENDV85PAL)
£13.00

Tracklist

  1. 1
    The Lighthouse
  2. 2
    Ruthless
  3. 3
    Theme From Battery
  4. 4
    Kokubo Sosho Stealth
  5. 5
    El Cargo
  6. 6
    Displaced
  7. 7
    Ruthless (Reprise)
  8. 8
    Hokkaido
  9. 9
    The Clean Up
  10.  
    Play All (9)

Welcome to ZenTV.

Since the mid-nineties and the groundbreaking Stealth parties at the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, Ninja has been almost as well respected for its engagement with visuals as it has for its audio. The two came together on this massive retrospective of almost a decade of experimentation, innovation, humour and weirdness.

Let’s get the spec out of the way first.

The ZenTV DVD has twice the capacity of a normal DVD, containing as it does 35 promo videos from th...

Welcome to ZenTV.

Since the mid-nineties and the groundbreaking Stealth parties at the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, Ninja has been almost as well respected for its engagement with visuals as it has for its audio. The two came together on this massive retrospective of almost a decade of experimentation, innovation, humour and weirdness.

Let’s get the spec out of the way first.

The ZenTV DVD has twice the capacity of a normal DVD, containing as it does 35 promo videos from the label, a fifteen minute audiovisual mix and a 30 minutes audio mix from Hexstatic. And as if that wasn’t enough, the DVD has a menu system which means you can watch the videos either in the order we intended, randomly, or chronologically from the oldest to the newest or the newest to the oldest. You can also look up any specific act and check out their videos and album art. Or just leave a gallery of some of Ninja’s finest covers running in the corner of the room as a kind of ambient art installation dahlink… Mwah.

But that just scratches the surface, really, 'cos after all, in the kingdom of the blind, content is king. Or something like that. You know the music is going to be good (we hope you know the music is going to be good), but what about the visuals?

Well, one advantage with not having hit records (Coldcut’s 'Beats & Pieces' remains our one top forty for 12 years work) is that you don’t have to worry about getting your promos shown on any of those hellholes of visual mediocrity where all the bands have to look fabulous and if they don’t, well you better make sure you put some models in there who do…instead, you can be (whisper it) creative.

Which is why some of the top up-and-coming names in video direction and animation, including established directors like Alexander Rutterford (Amon Tobin, now working for Radiohead), Sam Arthur (DJ Vadim) as well as young turks like Conkerko (Bonobo) have worked for Ninja. Because they know that if they pitch an interesting, visually striking, innovative idea, they will be left to get on with it without interference. Fizzy Eye made their first music video for Wagon Christ (the truly excellent 'Receiver') and have since gone on to do commercials for Honda, proving that a track record with Ninja doesn’t ruin your business prospects.

Beyond this, artists like Kid Koala and Jaga Jazzist often even commission their own videos, working with close associates to find the perfect match between their sound and the director’s vision. There are artists on the label who are intimately involved in the creation of their own videos, whether it’s the Scruff cartoons that make up the basis of his Cosgrove Hall-animated 'Sweet Smoke,' the pioneering audiovisual cut-ups of Hexstatic and Coldcut, Funki Porcini’s satires of adverts or his weird, otherworldly concrete moving abstracts.

Overall, since those early audiovisual mash-ups, the driving force behind all of Ninja’s visual work has been that the video is not merely an unrelated promo item to sell a single but should be intimately related to the sounds it represents. The budgets may be small, some results may be more effective than others, but there’s no denying that the attempts to realise this ideal are never less than interesting.

Are you sitting comfortably?