Clarence Clarity

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No Now (2015), 7/10
Think Peace (2018), 6/10
Dead Screen Scrolls (2020), 5/10

English singer-songwriter Clarence Clarity (real name Adam Crisp) debuted with the EPs Save Thyself (37 Adventures, 2013) and Who Am Eye (2014). The former offers the creative soul-hop rollercoaster of Alive In The Septic Tank and The Gospel Truth, in which the singer alternates between Michael Jackson-ian swagger and Prince-esque falsetto. The even more creative The Crux adds jazzy overtones and a spastic tempo. The latter contains more melodic items, namely the exotic Those Who Can't Cheat (which may sound like a hip-hop remix of Murray Head's One Night In Bangkok), and Exaltations, a blend of chaotic instrumental snippets and a mellow soul refrain, but also the muffled, warped and chopped-up lament Off My Grid. Both EPs were highly original.

The album No Now (2015) reiterated his skills at crafting infectiously catchy hooks while vivisecting the instrumental counterpoint and recombining the snippets. His specialty is hazardous ballads like Will To Believe and especially Buck-Toothed Particle Smashers, a carillon drenched in his typical chaos of sampling, detours, sound effects and vocal mutations. There are more infectious singalongs and rhythms, like Meadow Hopping Traffic Stopping Death Splash and 1-800-WORSHIP, and more trivial melodies and rhythms, like Let's Shoot Up and Porn Mountain. While his eccentric genius is more diluted in the album than in the previous EPs, there are still plenty of eccentric moments. For example, CancerT In The Water hipnotically repeats the same line over and over again, with minimal variations in the accompaniment. There are also several brief interludes, even the pure noise collage of Hit Factory Of Sadness. The album also includes Alive In The Septic Tank, Off My Grid, Those Who Can't Cheat and The Gospel Truth that appeared on the EPs. Towards the end the album begins to sound repetitive and run out of ideas, but it was since the time of Prince that a dance-soul album didn't contain so many catchy refrains.

Think Peace (2018) compiles the singles released between 2016 and 2018. Gone are the cubistic experiments. Most of them are tedious soul ballads like Adam & the Evil, Naysayer Magick Obeyer and Vapid Feels Ain't Vapid, but there is still room for bizarre songs like the surrealistic synth-pop ditty We Change and the limping aquatic semi-rapped Fold 'Em/ Silver Lake Reservoir, both worthy of a musichall skit. Among the mainstream products, Next Best Thing is particularly bouncy and infectious. If they are wrapped in much simpler candy paper, the number of melodic concoctions remains impressive.

Dead Screen Scrolls (2020) is an album of rather conventional instrumental electronic ambient music, recycling cliches in the cinematic Morricone-esque Paint Drying and the old-fashioned new-age music of Covid 19. The slightly distorted fugue of Facts vs Time is intriguing but mostsly this is filler, repetitive, naive.

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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