Clarence Clarity has a certain wittiness and self-awareness about himself as a producer. In a world where some of the most controversial music acts in the underground are often channelled into memes by their fans (Death Grips), Clarence Clarity has decided to work backwards. He’s already done what the fans would inevitably do; he’s already named himself after the Sudden Clarity Clarence meme.
Like Death Grips, Clarence Clarity is bound to divide people drastically. Not in that it will just divide your casual music listener, but he’s going to divide critics. His music is confused insanity, yet genius at the same time. He pulls influence from so many different places from track to track, from synths that sound like they were taken straight out of India on ‘Alive In The Septic Tank’ to what sounds like a satellite trying to pick up a million signals to play all at one time on the track ‘Hit Factory of Sadness’.
No Now is not an easy listen. Not only that, but his persona as a musician is somewhat similar to that of Kanye West’s with him already insisting that he’s going to become ‘The greatest artist of all time, not just by musical impact, but my societal impact’. Everything surrounding him is witty, self-aware and deliberately provocative, because this guy knows exactly what he’s doing.
Like a lot of the great producers, he takes the standard sounds of genres like RnB, Dance, Jazz and Funk and turns them all on their head. It could be a certain rhythm he’s singing over that’ll be completely drowned out in sparkling synths, or a chord progression that could have been taken straight out of something conventional that’s then washed away in the beautiful-yet-terrifying effects he has up his sleeves. His music has bursts of effects out of nowhere mid-song almost like he uses the music as a way to document his trail of conscientiousness.
What’s strange is that a lot of these tracks have the singing you’d expect to normally appear on a pop song. Clarence is a good singer in that not only does he show that he’s diverse throughout this album, but he shows how a conventional voice can blend into elements of noise fantastically without sounding out-of-place. The vocal melodies are highly inventive as well like like on tracks ‘Will To Believe’ and ‘Bloodbarf’ where nearly most of the joy comes from the singing rather than the crazy effects. His diversity as an artist is remarkable.
‘Let’s Shoot Up’ is a testament to how strange an experience it can be to listen to Clarence Clarity, it never lets you get comfortable in what you’re listening to, it demands your full undivided attention. The song starts with a beat that sounds like it could have been taken from a Hip-Hop track and then he throws this vocal melody over the top that could have been taken straight out of a boy-band song. The song then stop-starts so many times that it becomes hard to pinpoint what it actually is – there’s even a little guitar segment at the end that sounds like it’s taken from funk track. Even when you give this album all of your attention, there’s no telling where you’re going to end up, you’re going to be lost. And getting lost along the way is all part of the fun of the album. Depending on your preference this could be a double-edged sword because it can be hard to truly grasp on to any song on here, especially when the entire album feels so stop-start.
Clarence isn’t quite the greatest artist of all time yet, and he doesn’t have the following he deserves yet, but he’s definitely put out the most idiosyncratic and inventive debut of the year so far. You can feel this man’s ambition as a producer in the way he crafts these musical passageways with surprises round every corner. With an album that’s 20 tracks long and actually feels longer than that due to the fact that it feels like there are songs within songs; Clarence Clarity is already on the way to being compared to other forward thinking producers such as Flying Lotus. There will be a select few people that love No Now on first listen, and some that’ll hate it on first listen, but mostly likely the first listen will render pure confusion. And that’s good, we need more producers that makes people question what the hell they’re listening to.