August 18, 2017

clipping. - Splendor & Misery

By Calen Henry. Last year one of the records I listened to most was a sprawling, experimental, science fiction concept album, but it wasn't Terminal Redux. It was clipping.'s Splendor & Misery.
By Calen Henry.


Last year one of the records I listened to most was a sprawling, experimental, science fiction concept album, but it wasn't Terminal Redux. It was clipping.'s Splendor & Misery.

clipping. don't make metal but they are metal. Check out their playlist, "Some metal from 2016". Their Sci-fi cred too is beyond reproach. Splendor & Misery is up for a Hugo award; the first album since 1971 to be nominated.

clipping. are a deconstructionist hip-hop group. Using a backdrop of noise and power electronics they create rap songs both in opposition to and reverential of mainstream hip-hop. Splendor & Misery is where, for me, everything clipping. does comes together perfectly. The noise backdrop, the story, and the varied vocal approaches work beautifully to create a truly compelling concept album in which I keep discovering new details even a year after its release.

In a mere 37 minutes Splendor & Misery tells the story of the sole survivor of an intergalactic slave ship rebellion, the ships's computer that falls in love with him, his rise to intergalactic outlaw, his fight against space and time as the computer abandons him and ultimately his embrace of hope and trip to a "better place". The story itself is interspersed with vignettes that flesh out the world. The story is told through every aspect of the music, building up a fractured narrative that demands attention but proportionally rewards it.

The noise soundscapes, the backdrop for the story, layer Vangelis inspired synths with industrial pounding and all manner of static creating exactly the right mix of oppression, urgency, awe, and desperation to communicate Cargo #2331's plight. Each track sounds like a hulking empty spacecraft hurtling through space but different sounds are layered to create different moods within that spectrum before the lyrics even hit.

Daveed Diggs lyrics and vocals give a huge emotional range to the story. Depending on the voice, whether Cargo #2331, the ship's computer, or story vignettes the cadence and delivery changes as does the post processing applied. Rounding out the story are the excellent gospel vocals from Take 6. The caveat to all this is the album really only works as an album and demands attention to really unpack. It's certainly not light summer listening, but it is essential listening for those at all interested in sci-fi, concept albums, or any kind of experimental music.

Tagged with 2016, Calen Henry, clipping., hip-hop
1 comment:
  1. Pretty unique stuff, only drawback > too few ACTUAL songs. But I really like the first few 'real' songs, and the overall atmosphere.

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