Confused? You should be. Clarence Clarity, alliterative meme-inspired producer extraordinaire is really out there. Listening to ‘No Now’ makes you feel like putting on the mask, Stanley Ipkiss style and dancing around like a loon, high on pop-mayhem.
Funk is the main element to this production, a twenty track joyride of a dozen prime pop cuts smeared with intensive murky interludes that assault and thrill the senses, accompanied by a visual aesthetic that almost rivals PC-Music in its complete post-modern awareness of what this is. Clarence presents lyrics deliberately obscured by his vocal delivery; this makes it hard to stay on top of the plot (a walk-through is available here). However, when you get on track they offer curious asides, a skewed English perspective on the world at large – imbued with spiritual purity, religious posturing and hedonistic yearning.
Social commentary in pop music now seems a bit too obvious, even contrived/boring. Clarity fires potshots at a seedy underbelly, with veiled remarks at lying weapons inspectors on Those Who Can’t, Cheat and our screen-viewed handheld realities on Off My Grid. Venomous undercurrents abound, death and ecstasy are close bedfellows here.
Clarence’s vocal presence is equally evasive: languid, staccato, blink and you’ll miss a great line or take it as something else, which isn’t such a bad thing. He makes the most of a coy falsetto and a sardonic wail. Every vocal line is primal and pop, even if you don’t understand a word, it doesn’t matter because the language of joy, ecstasy and pop is universal. Clarity’s way with a hook and his production chops are utterly inescapable. His hip-hop & R’n’B infused palette makes stylish nods at the luminaries of Brainfeeder and Warp, whilst throwing the eeriest of kitchen sinks into the mix: speed metal, slap bass, guitar noodles and plenty of sneaky 808s. These kind of characteristics are what make this an album to return to forever, not just another wasted floozy of a record to listen to twice and forget as it slides down your Spotify playlist selections.
At times though it really is too much, the world-ending drawn out hyperspace finale of With No Fear is an example of this, distracting from an otherwise smouldering piece of folk. Your options are to turn away, fast-forward or look for answers.
Clarence recently turned out a mix for DUMMY that buries even further into the flesh and bones of this beast, regurgitating the record in a stroke beyond the daring of most artists. Clarity cropped up on Huw Stephens with a live session that offers a four-piece vision of how this goes down IRL. You can catch him at festivals like Field Day and Latitude. If that kind of clarity is too far away, then bask in the weirdest of visuals by Weirdcore for Meadow Hopping, Traffic Stopping, Death Splash or a whole slew of visuals devised by the man himself, including a lyric video in Japanese for Will To Believe.
No Now is sophisticated dumb music. Confused? I sure as hell don’t understand it. It’s completely overwhelming. Perhaps the future will be more refined, but for now the only option is to embrace it.
No Now is out now on Bella Union, pick up a gold version of the vinyl from Record Store.
1. Become Death
2. Will To Believe
3. Alive In The Septic Tank
4. Buck-Toothed Particle Smashers (Feat. Kill J)
5. Hit Factory Of Sadness
6. Off My Grid
7. Those Who Can’t, Cheat
8. Let’s Shoot Up
11. Meadow Hopping, Traffic Stopping, Death Splash
12. Porn Mountain
13. One Hand Washes The Other
14. The Cute
16. The Gospel Truth
17. No Now
18. CancerTM In The Water
19. With No Fear
20. Now I Am