Clarence Clarity : Experimental R&B Artpop
No Now is the debut full-length album from British singer, songwriter, and producer Clarence Clarity.
Early last March, London-based musician Clarence Clarity released his debut, No Now, to a world of clear confusion. What distinguishes Clarence’s music from that of his peers in the experimental R&B circuit is his no holds barred approach to sound-seeking. Like the danceable beats of contemporaries Jai Paul and Autre Ne Veut, Clarence waxes sleek and sexy, but glazes his works with something far more sinister.
In fact, his tunes seem ideologically aligned with the likes of Vaporwave, projecting a complex stance on the Information Age and the hyper-globalization of the present day. Likewise, the visual style of his music videos—the gouged out eyes of Justin Timberlake on a magazine cover in “Bloodbarf”—speaks to his love-hate relationship with mass-produced excess in the digital era. In an implosion of gigabytes and latex, he foists upon us the oppressive weight of information immediately available to us with a wireless connection.
If I had to pick something to compare this album to, it would be like a mixture of How to Dress Well‘s vocals, coupled with the sampling style of an album like Centipede Hz by Animal Collective. Pairing these two things in any context is a feat in and of itself, but making it sound good is a whole different story, but Clarence Clarity does it here by making an album filled with overwhelming, glitchy samples, and meeting it with catchy, groovy, and poppy melodies.
Everything known to the masses about the London Glitch Pop artist bulges out of these 20 songs. The lavishly obtuse production, the spell-binding choruses, the Noise-centric interludes, the wailing vocals that cry out for attention, all of it scratches down its sonic walls at all points in time.
The music oscillates between the unabashedly pop melodies of *NSYNC and the progressive compositions of Oneohtrix Point Never, generally without warning. Clarence effortlessly combines influences to the point where all real genre labels fly out the window: electropop, hip-hop, and metal all blend uncannily into one. The product makes us feel like pigs sloshing around in our slop, but enjoying it.
His repeated “Oops!” in “Those Who Can’t, Cheat” strongly evokes a pig-tailed Britney Spears, circa 2000, while getting at something far murkier, and its South Asian-tinged breakdown affirms the possibility of cultural appropriation with the click of a mouse. The man takes squeaky-clean hooks and enshrouds them in soul-crunching, bit-crushing production, all pointing to his great propensity to glitch out.
“Meadow Hopping, Traffic Stopping, Death Splash” and “Porn Mountain” are simply fantastic tracks, successfully securing the captivating, hand-lifting cheeriness that this album went for in its sonic template.
On Clarence Clarity’s debut, we get a first hand glance into his strange and vibrant universe. The themes and the lyrics of this album really reflect each other in a beautiful way. They’re both confused, chaotic, disorganized, but all in a very intentional and contrived way. The way he takes his catchy R&B influenced style in vocals and instrumentation and mixes it with a sonically dense and electronic atmosphere is a very impressive feat, and even more-so impressive in making it a cohesive and enjoyable experience.
No Now is one hell of a listen. With 62 minutes to take in you’ll be bound to find something worth enjoying. That is, of course, if you enjoy Internet-age Alternative R&B and Art Pop! There’s no denying that in the Indie scene this debut, virtually appearing out of nowhere, may be one of the strongest to come out in 2015.
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