Clint Slate is the moniker for Gregg Michel. He explains that he started this project “to quench his thirst for artistic exploration.” I hope that’s the reason any artist decides to make art in my opinion. That exploration created Dragons which is a nine-song album.
The process used to make these songs is worth repeating. According to the artist “Dragons took shape from the idea of a ‘cadavre exquis musical’ (or ‘exquisite musical corpse’) mixing spontaneous recordings, debones tracks and randomly generated lyrics resulting in nine totally unexpected and unpredictable songs. Between May and July 2020, a trio was formed, tracks were exchanged, recordings were deboned, lyrics were randomly generated and nine totally unexpected songs were born: Dragons.”
I have to admit these songs don’t seem unpredictable or unexpected in structure. I’m not sure how this process worked exactly but these songs revolved around a fairly popular rock type of structure. For example verse/chorus/verse is used quite often.
The album starts with “Sunset, Nova and Earth” and initially opens with some light rapping over a warm beat. It works and the chorus goes into more traditional singing against tremolo laced guitar, drums and a steady bass.
“Reconciliation TV (The Love Tides)” was a great song. It’s a bit of a ballad with a moody verse and a chorus that actually reminded me of a ’70s classic rock band. The band Queen came to mind with maybe a tinge of Radiohead.
“Ghost America” is at first soft and mellow. I really enjoyed the vocals except the whispering did feel a tad melodramatic. As the song progresses it intensifies to an epic crescendo. It’s easy to appreciate and some of the high octave vocals contained a notable ’80’s type of quality.
One of the highlights was “Dead Noise” which is a fun song and a romp in the spirit of Talking Heads. The mellow “Dark is Wire” is similar to “Ghost America” in that it builds slowly to a crescendo. It’s around the four-minute mark the song seamlessly finds its way back to the intimacy it starts with. “The Sixth Trip Plan'' felt like another highlight. The song is really fun and by far provides the most levity to any of the previous tracks. I was reminded of The Strokes and I think this mood really worked for Michel.
“Obstacles'' goes back into a more dramatic ballad. “Systems and Batteries” sounds a bit like a Radiohead B-side in terms of the music. Last up is a very cheery yet rocking song entitled “Smash” which was quite good.
The mood and style felt a bit scattered when reflecting on what I heard but nothing too far into left field and perhaps this was because of the process Michel used. Regardless of process I really enjoyed this release overall. There are some really good individual songs and quite a bit to latch onto musically. Recommended.
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