Clinic


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Internal Wrangler (2000), 7/10
Walking With Thee (2002), 6/10
Winchester Cathedral (2004), 5/10
Visitations (2007), 6/10
Do It (2008), 5/10
Bubblegum (2010) , 5/10
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Clinic came out of England in the wake of Radiohead and Stereolab with the singles The Voot (Aladdins' Cave of Golf, 1997), Monkey On Your Back and Cement Mixer, later compiled on Three Piece (Domino, 2001), and a sound that bridged the late, post-psychedelic 1990s with the new wave of the late 1970s. Ade Blackburn was an acrobatic singer and an inventive arranger (guitarist and keyboardist). Unlike their more famous contemporaries, Clinic were not all about form. Each song wavered and trebled with an overload of emotions, that found the perfect vehicle in Blackburn's voice, a haunting, menacing, ghostly tone somewhere between Velvet Underground's Lou Reed and Suicide's Alan Vega.

Internal Wrangler (Domino, 2000), the proper debut album (a short one at 31 minutes), grafts disturbing sonic poetry onto the standard rock vocabulary. After the surreal instrumental Voodoo Wop, the pounding jumping blues of Return of Evil Bill (a cross between Rip Rig & Panic and Fleshtones), the tribal-surf dance of Internal Wrangler (with bubbling electronica and harshly droning organ), the bouncy garage-rock of Second Foot Stomp (another distorted organ a` la Suicide coupled with a refrain a` la T.Rex and a synthesizer riff a` la Beach Boys's Good Vibration) and the pulsing neurosis of 2/4 (whose colossal organ riff blends Suicide and Doors into a breathless pow-wow dance) set a high standard for arrangements that mix driving rhythms and primal melodies. Instead of the lush arrangements of contemporary Brit-pop, Clinic opted for a humbler strategy. Every song has at least one instrument or sound effect that stands out for the eccentric way in which it is employed, whether a harmonica or the sound of ocean waves.
Contrasting the romantic serenade of Distortions and the disco-soul a` la Soft Cell of The Second Line with the visceral rave-ups of Hippy Death Suite Clinic found the middle ground between two entirely different histories of rock music.
Tribal drumming, cheesy synthesizers, sexy melodica continuously challenge the vocals and the melodies.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Luca Battistini)

I Clinic sbucarono dall'Inghilterra sulla scia di Radiohead e Stereolab con i singoli The Voot (Aladdins' Cave of Golf, 1997), Monkey On Your Back e Cement Mixer, raccolti successivamente su Three Piece (Domino, 2001), e un sound che univa i tardi, post-psichedelici anni 90 con la new wave dei tardi anni 70. Ade Blackburn e' un cantante acrobatico e un arrangiatore inventivo (chitarrista e tastierista). A differenza dei loro maestri, i Radiohead, i Clinic non sono tutti dediti all'aspetto formale. Ogni canzone oscilla e si triplica in un sovraccarico di emozioni che trovano il loro perfetto veicolo nella voce di Blackburn (un tono insistente, minaccioso, spettrale, tra Lou Reed dei Velvet Underground e Alan Vega dei Suicide).

Internal Wrangler (Domino, 2000), il vero e proprio debut album (della breve durata di 31 minuti), innesta una disturbante poesia sonica sul classico vocabolario rock. Contrapponendo il bubblegum di The Second Line e Distortions ai deliri viscerali di C.Q. e Hippy Death Suite, i Clinic mostrano un impressionante raggio stilistico, e Return of Evil Bill riesce a trovare la terra di mezzo tra due storie della musica rock completamente differenti. In Hippy Death Suite e Earth Angel il drumming tribale, i sintetizzatori, la melodica sexy mettono di continuo alla prova le parti vocali e le melodie.

Much of the energy of the debut album is absent from the sleekly produced Walking With Thee (Domino, 2002), but most of the magic is still there. In general the new songs adapt their trademark sounds to more conventional stereotypies. To start with, Harmony pushes the sensual whisper on a fluid carpet of metronomic beats, staccato keyboards and western-movie harmonicas. The effect is an odd hybrid of Inxs and Chris Isaak. There is little else than collective pounding to the arrangement of The Equalizer, a fact that bestows a demonic quality on it. The elastic blues-rock Welcome completes the killer opening triad of the album. Alas, the rest of the album is vastly inferior, with the exception perhaps of the T.Rex-esque boogie of Sunlight Bathes Our Home. While the best songs further refine their take on the subconscious, too many of them merely sound like variations on the first album's songs (the distorted organ of Walking with Thee, the feverish rave-up of Pet Eunuch, the pseudo-surf dance of The Bridge).

Confirming the concerns generated by the weaker and gentler material on Walking With Thee, Clinic even paid tribute to English pagan folk on Winchester Cathedral (2004), containing the single The Magician.

The songwriting improved a bit on Visitations (2007), running the gamut from psychedelic bubblegum (Harvest) to thrash'n'roll (Tusk) to garage-rock (If You Could Read Your Mind), but none of the songs come close to matching the verve and the charm of their debut singles. A wealth of old-fashioned instruments helps make the songs interesting even when the songwriting and the melodies are substandard.

Funf (2007) collects rarities.

Do It (2008) was an inferior work that recycled old ideas with the class of the veterans but without the imagination of the novices.

By comparison with the intensity of their debut album, Bubblegum (Domino, 2010) is positively bucolic: I'm Aware, Freemason Waltz and Another Way of Giving are even mellower than the mellow standards of the previous albums. The exceptions to the rule (Lion Tamer, Evelyn, Orangutan) are merely reminders that this band used to shock and assault the senses. The soulful Baby and the Brian Eno-esque instrumental Un Astronauta en Cielo open up new aesthetic avenues but are unlikely to change a trend towards the introspective lullaby.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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