It happens sadly not enough, but every so often, that you will encounter something that, even as it is happening, is glorious and memorable. It might not be a life altering there-was-before-and-there-was-after thing (then again it might), but it is a piece of something that will be with you forever and you understand this even while it is unfolding right before you.
It can be an incredible meal or a day of river swimming or an art exhibition or a film or a skate session or even just a song. But you get just a quarter of the way through and it just know that this could be IT. But will it sustain? Will it deliver on the promise it has set up thus far? The longer it continues the higher the potential for things to go awry but the greater the joy when it doesn’t crack. Each step further can transport us even deeper; Or will the next step be a misstep?
But it doesn’t collapse into something merely impressive. The magic preserves and when it is over you know you just participated in, if merely through witnessing, something sublime.
A lot has to come together to create this kind of transcendence that can’t be easily relayed or translated. It can happen with a skate edit, but it takes more than great tricks. It takes atmosphere, pacing, style, and sincerity. The spots, the song, the angles, the tricks, the b-roll, the references… if one beam slips the whole thing can collapse. But if somehow the delicate structure holds and everything overlays at the right place and time, it goes beyond something great. It connects in a way that is far beyond what we could ever expect from video of skateboarding .
For your consideration, Tom Knox in Jacob Harris’ Atlantic Drift 11.
Really, Tom Knox just did what he has always done, but somehow everything came together even better than usual and the sum is greater than the whole of the parts. Tom delivers all things we need and expect from him: the quick-footed rapid succession of tricks, the dreary London skies, the crustiest of weathered British spots. Probably more than anyone, Tom Knox knows how to construct a line and it shows.
But we also get lots of smaller touches that stick with us: that quick backside powerslide after 360flipping into the little ramp (which was the 5th tricks of a 7 trick line), the look when he survives his nose inadvertently bonking a pole after a do-or-die kickflip into a head-high brick embankment, the clacking of wheels of the cracked tiles, the fact that Jacob Harris shows us glimpses of these spots soaked in rain water.
I would never recommend anybody put out a 10 minute part that is filmed more or less all in the same city. Hell, even such storied Marks as Suciu and Johnson had trims they could’ve made to their magnum opuses upon second viewing. I’ve now seen Atlantic Drift 11 at least a dozen times, and every time I am surprised by how short it feels. It’s a part that just absorbs you.
And it isn’t epic or joyous. And it doesn’t strive to portray melancholy or heroic triumph over adversity. It doesn’t feel over thought or over edited. Even the insider’s nods to Ben Reamers, younger siblings getting theirs, and video anniversaries feel easily paced and light handed. It is like Tom and Jacob put on some warm clothes, headed out into the damp morning air and just got to work making the most of a well worn city in a strange time. The video doesn’t try too hard, but it tries just hard enough.
Tom Knox (and Jacob Harris) also released a one minute NB shoes commercial a day or two before Atlantic Drift came out, and it is also very fun to watch:
Bonus Bonus Knox:
The Thrasher interview that accompanies Atlantic Drift 11 is pretty good, and features some amazing photos by Henry Kingsford.