Clipping - Splendor & Misery LP
Label: Sub Pop
What started as a strange pastiche of sheer hellish miasma dotted with mainstream hip-hop samples is now the larger-than-life project of Clipping. William Hutson (who we first knew as a cerebral noise technician working as Rale) and Jonathan Snipes were the two who started Clipping. back in the late aughts, but the hip-hop / industrial noise assemblage didn't fully take shape until Daveed Diggs (then of the True Neutral Crew and later a Tony award-winning actor for his role in Hamilton) stepped in as the wild-maned lyricist and frontman to incredible alomb. When their debut album dropped in 2014, few were prepared for the oblique abstract assault that Clipping. delivered. That album hammered and shattered electronics amidst Diggs' hyperactive tongue-twisting lyrics in his nightmare-within-a-nightmare poetics of urban dystopia. Splendor & Misery is another concept record that follows the travails of a sole survivor from a distant future slave uprising aboard an interstellar cargo ship. Where the debut slowly dissolved the psychic pressure from an opening onslaught of rhythm and noise, Splendor & Misery is an embryonic abstraction of decentered electronics where Diggs' protagonist learns how to speak, gain agency and ultimately address his condition as a presumed free man. It's Diggs who controls the rhythm and the pace of the album, as Clipping's arrangements hinge upon eeriely vacant electronics, muted rhythms and the occasional African Methodist sacred hymn deconstructed into a ghostly melody. This sterilized minimalism is all by design in the construction of this conceptual, ambitious album of Afrofuturism that's easily read as a damning parable of racial dislocation. Few if any could pull off an album this bold.