Though it might seem like a clever marketing ploy to drop an album full of horror film references close to Halloween, the timing of Clipping’s There existed an addiction to blood release is actually quite troubling. All that play with cliched references to blood and guts, ghosts and vampires, risks doing too good a job of concealing the inspired depth and experimental genius of this album.
Not that there aren’t some really good homages to horror-film threats and violence setup across many of these tracks, but (as you can particularly tell from the video for “Blood of the fang”), this is an album that reflects very cleverly about our “addiction to blood” through a comparatively innocuous lens, cloaking statements which are far more incendiary. This is political album in many ways, more than a flippantly playful one.
This is consistent in a sense. The band’s last album was just as odd, and equally not as it appeared (That one was at face value based on a story about an escapee from an intergalactic slave ship of the future!). Clipping give us access to abstract and strange worlds, to have us think more about our own, concrete one.
There is a fascinating play between the horrible and beautiful tonally, too. Tracks like “All in your head” rise from the glitchy and borderline grating, to a choral and synth build at the end which I can only describe as one of the single best sounds I’ve heard this year.
“Blood of the fang” is yet another high-point, harsh and unrelenting, but irresistibly demanding that I loop it again and again.
Lyrically it’s also quite a ride. Daveed Diggs’s flow is as fast and tight as anyone I’ve ever heard, but always seems grounded in complex word-play that is very hard to beat. From “Club down”:
The schoolyard reeks of sewage, broken pipes, broken promise/
The thin man staggers lucid for this time of night/
Drying vomit dangles from the beard, step, mumble, shuffle, trip/
But the trajectory is clear, he’s headed for the covered steps/
Tut, tut, it looks like rain, he remembers A. A. Milne/
Each time the sky is this kind of grey, that or his favorite film, Gene Kelly/
Leaping Technicolor through the fray and feeling glorious/
The story is an allegory for his days, but night is coming now/
There existed an addiction to blood is not an easy listen, I have to admit. How could an album that concludes with a 17 minute recording of (quite literally) a piano burning be anything else? There are so many points where you’ll want to give up – where the torturous sound of a buzz or crackle setup by the band’s two tech-head masters (William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes) drives you to breaking point. The ending of “La Mala Ordina” for example, where static overrides any melody at all for nearly 2 minutes!
By the time you’ve let this album under your skin though, even this becomes an opportunity to let the nuances of a mass of buzzes and clicks swallow you whole. It’s the dynamics of all these sounds, and their counterpoints, that lifts this album into something very special indeed. You’d be mad to miss it.
Words by Nick Parker