Tuesday 1 May 2012

Clock Opera - Ways To Forget

Unfortunately, 'Ways To Forget' is an album that doesn't live up to its promise.  Frontman Guy Connelly has pioneered what he calls "chop-pop", taking samples of both instrumental and found sounds and manipulating them into indie-pop tunes.  This promised something offbeat and unusual.  Instead, he's made the unconventional sound conventional - where the album should be a delicate balance between experimental and indie-pop, he leans too heavily on the latter.

You see, the album supposedly contains sound samples of smashing pots, pans, glasses, WWII ammunition cases and other metallic objects.  These samples are either incredibly subtle, or so overly processed as to sound totally conventional.  What's left is an indie-pop album in a similar vein to Coldplay, Elbow, Keane et al - keys, guitars and drums combined with the odd splash of electronica.  Connelly's vocal doesn't help, ranging from heavily accented lower notes to a breathy falsetto and, consequently, sounding like every other indie vocalist of the moment.

That's not to say the album doesn't contain some intricacy.  When "chop-pop" is applied to standard instrumentation it results in some mesmeric, minimalist textures, complex rhythms and an emphasis on percussive sounds.  Recent single Belongings is a prime example, the layered piano sample shimmering with liquid fluidity, slowly building towards a spine-tingling crescendo accented by fuzzy guitars and drums.  Once And For All is the most obvious choice for the next single, angled towards commercial circles and thus offering a suitable gateway into the rest of the album.  The opening of Man Made offers some intriguing layered guitar rhythms, though these are ultimately overshadowed by the subsequent blaze of electric guitars, and 11th Hour mixes some unusual effects.  The Lost Buoys meanwhile proves Connelly is capable of writing a decent chorus hook amongst the instrumental experimentation.

But Connelly doesn't push his experiments far enough.  Early pieces such as Alouette suggested something beautifully intricate, but instead he has settled for above par indie-pop formed from repetitive minimalism.  For an album with such obscure promise, 'Ways To Forget', surprisingly enough, offers little that's new.


Gizzle's Choice:

* 11th Hour
* Belongings
* The Lost Buoys