Even if you have listened to everything from Chiptune to experimental electronic music there is still music out there to be discovered. Enter Clatterbox - Clatterbox is a live rock electronic radio theater collective formed at Free Radio Santa Cruz in 1994.They recently released their fourth album entitled The Madness of Alphabet, which is a psychedelic often maddening swirl of samples, instrumentation and noises. According to the band, “this album is a mock children's instructional record in a psychedelic rock format.” They have made or are in the midst of making a video, which I can only imagine is an integral component to the experience. In fact, even though I haven't seen the video the music itself conjures up visuals in your mind. The snippets of sound whether it is a vocal sample or the texture of sound itself paint a picture.
The album is divided up into two parts entitled “Side A” and “Side B” and even has a twenty second recess that falls in line with the format you would experience at a play. Both sides are about twenty minutes long but the passage of time experienced feels like less than that because of the constant changes occurring within the song. Something new and unexpected comes around every corner and you’re never quite sure as to where it will land.
“Side A” starts with a moderately crowded area where you can hear a culmination of numerous conversations. Without warning applause enters and you are transported into a psychedelic collage of vocal samples all centering around the alphabet. The music is ominous at times as dark synths breathe into the air. Utter confusion is felt and a sense of dread can easily overwhelm.
Just before the four-minute mark you are met with the first groove you can bob your head to. Don’t get too attached because it won’t last long. Around the seven-minute mark an intense, dissonant piano clashes with feedback, white noise and electronic elements sounding a bit like something you would hear from Squarepusher. Eleven minutes in the piece is a loosely thrown together combination of horns, bass, vocal samples and more. They find a vertigo-inducing beat at around fourteen minutes, which eventually subsides into what I believe to be a vocal sample of Gilbert Gottfried. By the end of the song I was impressed by how much they had fit in. It’s a roller coaster ride for your ears.
I enjoyed this experience but don’t think it is something I am going to be waking up to every morning. These are not pop songs you will be listening to for the hook but unique journeys that take you on a ride. One thing is for certain and that is that I can’t wait to see the video.
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