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Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, 'Vessel'

I see a lot of good-looking animations with music, but this one stopped me cold. The video is stunning — funny, odd and quirky, but with a sense of purpose. Rocks and totem poles sing, as do strands of DNA and a cereal box. The animation is mixed with surreal nature footage. All of this set to the music of Dan Mangan + Blacksmith. Mangan, a Canadian musician and arts writer, won the 2012 Juno award for New Artist of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year. He's a creative soul with something to say; "Vessel" comes to a powerful climax with the lyric, "takes a village to raise a fool."

When we asked Dan Mangan via email about the video and song, he explained, "People are comfortable with a middle-ground safe place. We're afraid to be honest with ourselves and actually work through the highs and the lows and embrace them."

The brilliant animation for "Vessel" was done by illustrator and computer programmer Ben Clarkson. The song itself comes from Mangan's fourth album, Club Meds, the first under the moniker Dan Mangan + Blacksmith. The group includes members of Vancouver's experimental music community (Gordon Grdina, Kenton Loewen, John Walsh, JP Carter, Jesse Zubot and Tyson Naylor). The album will be out Jan. 13.

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