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clipping.: for the dangerous listeners

| Monday, October 27, 2014

clipping-webSUSAN ZHU | The Observer
Few bands in our lifetime have been able to hold us in the same kind of abusive relationship with their attitude, sound and emotion, so abusive to the listener but so essential to our world experience that we can’t imagine our world without them after that pivotal first listen.

When we were youngsters, we had My Chemical Romance to pin us into evenings of essential angst and needless sorrow in the bedrooms of our parents’ houses. But as we matured and our experiences in this world grew, we lost the need for this kind of emotional release, and My Chemical Romance became irrelevant and dissolved. But as they did, the experimental hip-hop group Death Grips rose to prominence, with a set of more mature context for our maturing problem set: an outlet for the seemingly unhinged testosterone of our young bodies, the sexual frustration of our hedonistic pastime culture and the revulsion of and revelry in each. But as we learned to contextualize these problems and develop ourselves into more sophisticated hominids, Death Grips, too, has acknowledged that their time had come.

Who, then, is to take up the heavy yoke of relating to our intimate fears, anxieties and secrets? The leading candidate in my book is L.A.-based noise rap group Clipping. Consisting of Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson, this trailblazing trio represents all the confusion, chaos and self-indulgence, both in sound and lyrical content, that young twenty-somethings need to abuse their ears and lacerate their minds.

Diggs, the lead MC, offers an impressive flow, motivating listeners to throw hands in the air and hips against a partner. One part sleaze and two parts in-your-face, Diggs canvases both of Clipping’s releases (“Mid City” in 2013 and “CLPPNG in 2014”) with fast and furious verses concerned with anything you’ve ever regretted — and he does it with uncanny efficiency. In the intro to “CLPPNG” (released Jun. 10 on Sub Pop), which clocks in at only 1:05, Diggs spits an intricate, smooth-yet-dangerously-sharp 296 words (that’s more than four words each second, if the context is helpful). Delivered by an energetic and forceful set of pipes, this voice alone is enough to accompany the personal prescription to the head-banging, wall-punching, stair-sprinting or guttural yelling needed for your emotional upkeep.

Building the foundation for Diggs to rap works the prodigy pair of Snipes and Hutson (Fun fact, they were college roommates). Hutson, a current Ph.D. student in Performance Studies at UCLA, studies the effect of the sonic in art on the human brain. He once gave a talk at NYU’s Conference for Recorded Music’s Pop Conference entitled “Abrasive Nostalgia: A Noisescape of Deindustrialization.” Snipes, a seasoned band member, sound designer and producer, lays claim to association with 20 acts on his website. He is a current teacher of sound design at UCLA and has given lectures across the world.

While it may seem strange to describe these gentlemen by their CVs, it is much less strange than trying to vet them by verbalizing the intricacies and ingenuity of their style and sound. The very name of the band gives away their expertise and intentionality about making music that pushes the boundaries; “clipping” is the phenomenon that occurs when an amplifier is overdriven by trying to give an output voltage beyond its capacity (It sounds scary).  The band’s first release is built with beats primarily from this effect. “CLPPNG” features much of the noise and confusion of Mid City while incorporating beats and hooks which are, although gentler in delivery, still bad to the bone. When performing live, the DJ duo provides an absolutely awe-inspiring intensity of noise while standing stony-faced and silent behind its animated and vocalized front man, in addition to sophisticated, seamless transitions and ad hoc rave-style dance outros.

This band is for danger, regret and confusion. This band is badass. This band is for you.

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About Thom Behrens

Thom is working to get a degree in Computer Engineering and, if he can pull it off, will graduate in 2016. In his free time, Thom likes to rip on Pitchfork, read books and hang out with Jay Michuda. Thom enjoys the chipotle alfredo sauce from the dining hall and is proud to represent the Dirty South Bend on campus.

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