This super weird full-length debut from the enigmatic Clarence Clarity matches slick pop textures and crooning with dark and complex instrumentation. Clarity extracts the strange centre of glossy boyband electro and the sleek and empty melodies of 1980s MOR. By pulling at the edges of major-label sheen he regurgitates a skewed pop-culture collage with great melodies.
Double LP £14.99 BELLA481V
Ltd gold coloured vinyl gatefold 2LP on Bella Union.
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CD £5.99 BELLA481CD
CD on Bella Union.
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If only people would write their names properly on album sleeves. Firstly it’s not written at all on the front and on the rear it looks something like Clarence Carthy. What chance does anyone walking into Woolworths have? Anyway, possibly responding to all my nags that Bella Union do not take enough risks, they’ve left the gentle folk rock murmerings of most of their acts to have a big long snooze in order to head down the club, saunter into the VIP section and unleash this mess of pop on us.
It’s confusing from the start, Clarence sounds like he’s taking pop music and mangling it into incomprehensible shapes. If I were to describe the first main track here, ‘Will to Believe’, I’d start at Justin Timberlake but then I’d throw him into the back of a bin lorry, let him get chewed up for a bit and then just before he gets turned to pulp I’d take him back out and play the results on a record player. It’s mangled but luckily for those with ears it launches into a pop chorus which is pretty damn infectious. The influence of chart/pop r&b is everywhere but it takes on left field hues under Clarence’s webbed hand. ‘Alive in the Septic Tank’ ain’t no title to bother the download charts but there is enough modern pop nous to get it into the Itunes playlists of particularly adventurous 12 year olds. Similarly, ‘Buck Toothed Particle Smashers’ bobs and weaves around the pop rulebook - its no more sonically adventurous than The Neptunes work with Timberlake but it’s likely to appeal to knowing adults above the voracious appetites of children.
I’d certainly get told off by half the office if I played it out loud but it’s their loss - there’s some fine tunes amongst the chaos here. But the question must be asked...what must Midlake make of this?
9/10 Kyle Customer review, 7th March 2015
Clarence Clarity's "No Now" rips apart modern music and turns it into something that sounds like it's from the future, endlessly beautiful and overwhelmingly terrifying. This album FEELS effortless. This is a master testing his talents. There is simply nothing else like it.
Everything about the chaos pop contained within "No Now" brims with conflict and catharsis, order and chaos, truth and untruth. The album plays over and over again with meaning and experience. Even the title is a double entendre. Taken as "know now" it could mean that you now possess truth or "clarity". Or it could be taken as "no now". As in there is no present, there is no meaning, the moment has passed before it ever happened. Clarence Clarity manages to encapsulate the crisis of all existence all in a simple two word title.
The music plays similar games with your head. The songs at points seem to be simple pop songs created by an extremely gifted songwriter yet the complexity that swirls and twists around them turns them into anything but. Expectation is continually screwed with as Clarence mesmerizes you with one beautiful moment after another only to snatch them away the next second. He has no problem tearing up the amazing chorus or hook he has built up. It's almost like a kid creating computers out of sand only to kick them to pieces and then build another equally perfect model from the ruins.
Take "Let's Shoot Up" for example, a beautiful wall of chimes and thumping kicks is built into a house of syringes filled with rainbows. He lures you in and then cuts off access. Not once but multiple times. The song feels exactly like a drug trip that keeps going as long as chemical keeps flowing through the veins. The moments in Clarity's songs are close to those chemicals. The songs are full of ideas that you never want to end but Clarence has no problem abandoning in a heartbeat.
This is music to be listened to again and again, something akin to the Entertainment from David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest.
Lyrically he takes aim at the excessiveness of our modern ADHD icon obsessed society.
His video for "Meadow Hopping, Traffic Stopping, Death Splash." is like a lovecraftian wake for fame and celebrity. As he intones "I was in Hollywood at the witchhouse with the reptiles and the Catholics!" It feels like you've wandered into a digital ritual where a bunch of celebrity cultists are about to turn another victim into a product to be consumed by the masses and bask in their own self-importance.
This album pulls off an almost impossible trick, it attracts and repulses you all at once.
His music is pop culture eating itself. In a world of Beyoncé, white minimalist art student RnB, and an Internet that never sleeps, his music is the virus and the tonic.
It's the whole picture. I haven't ever heard an album that manages to capture the totality of the Internet and modern society in such sweet insanity, crystal clear sounds.
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