Clarence Clarity is an ambitious young man, as his debut album No Now underlines. With no less than 20 tracks to wrap ears around, it is a rather overwhelming piece of work before you have even heard any of it, and just a gaze through the track names – Alive In The Septic Tank and Tathāgatagarbha for example – may give rise to an eyebrow. Or even two.
Then there’s Clarence Clarity’s insistence in a recent interview that he will become “the greatest artist of all time, not just because of my musical impact, but my societal impact”. There’s something ever so Kanye West about that amount of self belief, surely. Does No Now meet Clarence Clarity’s ambitions?
From the get-go, the album completely overloads the senses. It is like experiencing a bout of synthesesia, where the senses blend into one; the layers of sound have mounted so high that they have to bleed into all the other senses. As Will To Believe breaks into spasmodic explosions where nothing really makes sense, but has somehow been moulded together in the weirdest construction. It readies you for the audio adventure you are set to embark upon.
It’s already clear that this is an album of excessiveness. Its influences come from all sides of the globe; R’n’B, funk, dance and jazz are all mashed in for good measure. Meadow Hopping, Traffic Stopping, Death Splash is a perfect demonstration of the extensive amount of everything that Clarence Clarity has thrown into this. On first listen, it can all sound exhaustingly over the top, and almost as though it hasn’t been thought out at all.
But, that is what is so damn clever about Clarence Clarity. His ability to throw together ideas and snippets of sound that no one else would ever think of teaming together comes from a real ambition to push the listener as much as his own ability to create. It’s also interesting to hear the influence of Danish sound smith Kill J on the album for Buck-Toothed Particle Smashers. It’s one of the first real stand-out tracks, featuring a slightly more traditional song structure, with Kill J’s super high-pitched, feathery vocals adding another surreal edge. It’s exciting, exhilarating and fuelled by an in-built tension and fire that will blow your mind.
No Now can just be too much, but once you adapt to seeing the world in the new way that Clarence Clarity has presented you with, it becomes completely addictive. Every song moves in the most unpredictable way, such as Porn Mountain that just builds and builds into a cacophony of euphoric noise and layers upon layers of synths. It’s the unpredictability that really proves to be its most addictive feature. There’s no way of knowing what Clarence Clarity has up his sleeve next, and that’s what leaves you waiting and listening. Just when people claimed there was nothing new to be done, Clarity proves that there are still barriers to be pulled down and it is still possible to redraw the boundaries.
If it were necessary to describe Clarity’s overloading sound, it would be near on impossible. It is as though Yeasayer, Flying Lotus, The Child Of Lov and Jungle were thrown into a blender, with a generous helping of all things surreal and a whole heap of colour. No Now is a journey that tries to make sense of the madness of the universe. Clarence’s main aim is to keep reminding you to push the boundaries, that nothing is set in place and that creativity is infinite. He pushes, and pushes, and has created something that is original and totally unique. It’s also completely mental. But it’s all the better for it.