Across the album's 20 tracks, Clarence steamrolls a million different styles and genres (funk, rap, new jack swing, sophisti-pop, glitchcore, NIN-style industrial rock, gospel, what?) and filters what remains through his jaded worldview. It's brash and busy, but it's also obviously very considered and intricately constructed – and, for all the fragmentation, tracks like Buck-Toothed Particle Smashers are still proper songs, once you strip away all the audio chaos.
Clarence Clarity is currently on a UK tour supporting Jungle – Tuesday night saw him and his band play an energetic set at London's Roundhouse featuring a MIDI keytar and some delightfully glib on-stage banter – but he still found the time to put together our latest Dummy Mix and answer a few questions to celebrate the release of 'NO NOW' via Bella Union this week.
This mix probably requires a bit of context, so here goes: when we heard from a mutual friend that Clarence was sitting on dozens and dozens of unreleased tracks and sketches, we suggested that he put together a new mixtape as a companion piece to the album. He obliged, and what he's done has blown us away, fixing up a 35-track mix of exclusive, previously unheard material and alternate takes of 'NO NOW' tracks. It's a belter.
Jump into a short Q&A with Clarence and check out the amazing tracklist (Hit Factory Of Sadness (Mike Tyson Edit)! Unspoken Cacophony Pony!) below.
Hello, Clarence! How's the tour with Jungle been going? Got any ker-aaaazy tour stories so far?
Clarence Clarity: "Hello! It’s going great thanks. Didn’t really have any idea how this live show would work out, and going from nothing to big venues… But it's working out just fine. I can’t think of anything that funny right now – but we do seem to have a Spinal Tap moment trying to find our way around the venues every single day – endless corridors and walking back and forth past the stage while Jungle soundcheck (pretending I know where I’m going) just trying to find the dressing room or whatever. Hello Cleveland."
I've seen 'NO NOW' described as a "disavowal of the present moment". I've also seen it described as "almost as good as Clarence Clarity thinks it is". How would you describe it to someone you met at a party?
Clarence Clarity: "Yeah, I’m not into that 'almost as good as Clarence Clarity thinks it is' quote – how the fuck do they know how good I think it is? I don’t really have an opinion on it, I enjoyed making it, and I’m proud of it as a body of work – as an achievement – but ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is subjective nonsense and I really don’t have any need for an assessment of my own music… Rant over.
"But if I was describing it at a party I would say it was 'really, really good!' (This would be lie though: see above.)"
OK, so what's this mix all about? It's quite elaborate.
Clarence Clarity: "Well, you wanted an ‘album making-of’ kinda mix, so I’ve just gone through the archive and thrown in loads of short beats and works-in-progress that never got finished. A lot of stuff that literally no one has ever heard before, and will never be found anywhere else in the future… then I’ve squeezed some of the actual album tracks through a chopped and screwed kaleidoscope to flesh things out a bit. This is all 100% my music in this mix, so it was actually quite a big task, but I’m really glad I did it – it creates quite a nice companion piece to the album. It's probably even harder to digest though – sorry about that."
"Sudden Clarity Clarence" is a meme. What are your opinions on memes? Are they good ass shit, or are they parasites that impair our judgment and homogenise online conversation?
Clarence Clarity: "I dunno really, I genuinely had no idea about that meme when I thought of Clarence Clarity – but when I found it I thought it was quite apt. I find the forum-based sites where most of these memes come from a bit gross on the whole. But that's probably unfair 'cos I don’t know much about it all… some of the trolling memes make me laugh. There’s definitely a fine art of sophisticated trolling evolving – when its done right it can be some of the funniest shit on the internet. Evolving Trolling would be a good song title actually, or Evolving Troll perhaps for your new band name? You can have that one."
'NO NOW' is just the beginning. What's next in the world of Clarence Clarity?
Clarence Clarity: "Well I’m trying to work out if my universe is expanding or imploding, musically speaking. I reckon it's gonna get bigger, but more spaced out, as in more sparse perhaps, with super concentrated bursts of light. This first album feels like the big bang right back at the start, and now every things cooling down, and I can get more refined maybe. Explore some of these little galaxies I’ve created in a bit more detail. Breathe in some of this dark energy you find around the outside of everything. You know what I mean…"
Dummy Mix 247 // Clarence Clarity tracklist:
01. Hi! My Name Isn’t
02. Ongoing Wow (In full HD)
03. The Cute
04. Clarissa’s Bubble Beat
05. Porn Mountain (Clarissa’s In/Out Edit)
06. Militant Clarity
07. Still Alive In The Septic Tank
09. Hit Factory Of Sadness (Mike Tyson Edit)
10. Tensil Tonnis
11. One Hand Washes The Other (YEAH!$^&*^$*@ Edit)
12. Spinner (Heavily Moved Remix)
13. Buck-Toothed Particle Fuckers
15. Let’s Shoot Up (Directly-In-2-R-Hearts Edit)
17. Temporary Appearance, Ultimate Success
18. Life-Size, Christ-Like, Cut-Out
19. If Living This Without You Is No Good (Part 1)
20. Those Who Can, Preach!
22. Unspoken Cacophony Pony
23. All She Wants (Or All She Can Eat)
24. Off Your Grid
25. Clarence Says Relax
27. Narcissist Cyst (Instrumental)
28. The Grind
29. If Living This Without You Is No Good (Part 2)
30. Before I Get Out…
31. Will To Believe (L’wha Rising)
33. And I Will
34. The Man Before Time