Clipping: Visions of Bodies Being Burned (Sub Pop) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, November 25th, 2020  

Clipping

Visions of Bodies Being Burned

Sub Pop

Oct 21, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The concept of horror is fascinating. Why do we enjoy being scared and what drives consumers to go back to the genre’s well of viscera? Oftentimes, the best horror is one that connects fantastical onscreen fears with legitimate societal ones. Audiences can draw a morbid catharsis from the depictions of our worst fears. Experimental hip-hop trio Clipping accomplished exactly that with its 2019 LP There Existed An Addiction to Blood. The group turned the laser precision flow of MC Daveed Diggs and the harsh noise production talents of William Hudson and Jonathan Snipes to gruesome, detailed stories of brutality. Clipping continue their gore-soaked anthology with Visions of Bodies Being Burned, the second half of a planned diptych, with an equal amount of loving detail towards the horror films the group recreates. 

The first tracks stay in the vein of classic movie monsters with “Say the Name” making clear reference to Candyman with its story of a hook-handed killer insisting that his victims “Say the name.” The track is quintessential Clipping, down to the Geto Boys sample that forms the hook. The band are, after all, first and foremost fans of hip-hop. “’96 Neve Campbell” also makes obvious references to classic horror films, name dropping the titular actress from Scream in a tribute to the Final Girl trope. The Cam and China feature on the track is the fitting focal point as Diggs takes a backseat. The duo sounds tough and menacing, flipping the horror trope on its head as the hunted Final Girl turns the tables on the killer—“Unless you ready to back it up why you play with/The fairer sex/Fairly quick get your brain split.” These tracks continue in the slasher direction of There Existed An Addiction to Blood, complete with fists banging on doors and clanging percussion. 

However, the album’s departures from these more well-worn tropes bring some of the record’s most high-tension and downright threatening soundscapes. “Something Underneath” uses Diggs’ rapid-fire flow and tribal drumming to give the track the feel of an occult ritual chant. Diggs starts off unaccompanied, using a strange, off-kilter flow that only increases with speed as the drumming becomes overpowering, before transforming into a harsh noise breakdown. The ear-piercing industrial soundscape of “Make Them Dead” calls upon religious horror as the unnerving background vocals intone “Make them dead.” Later, one of the record’s most intense moments comes with “Looking Like Meat.” The crushingly loud blown-out production sets the background for Diggs’ cannibalistic bars and an unhinged feature courtesy of Ho99o9. The band’s willingness to explore not just the campy slasher gore of the horror, but its various demented subgenres and permutations give the record a genuinely chilling edge. 

That edge is made all the sharper by Clipping’s ability to use horror to comment on the violence of the world around them. “Check the Lock” tracks a drug kingpin’s descent into madness, but drops the supernatural elements, instead using gangster tropes to create an unrelentingly paranoid atmosphere. Alternatively, “Pain Everyday” uses the black horror motif of victims of racial violence seeking the justice they never found in life. Lynching victims haunt the dreams of their killers as Diggs bitterly notes, “They keep singing they songs while/Your body rot/Well fuck it come on/They gotta pay.” The villains of Visions of Bodies Being Burned are equally likely to be the horrors of dehumanizing black violence as any supernatural killer. 

With such an unceasingly dark tone to the album, the moments of genuine beauty stand out all the more. The cinematic and mournful string climax of “Pain Everyday” draws out a certain peaceful conclusion to the tragic story. Similarly, the entrancing instrumental on “Enlacing” is a fantastic psychedelic counterpoint to the cosmic horror of the lyrics, putting the listener right in the club with the protagonist as they struggle against an impending demise. Finally, the closing ambient piece, “Secret Piece” is a far more digestible field recording than “Piano Burning” from There Existed An Addiction to Blood, which was quite literally a recording of a piano burning for 18 minutes. The early morning forest sounds of “Secret Piece” instead feels like a hard-earned peace after the brutality of the preceding record. 

Much has been said of the talents of Daveed Diggs, so much so that Hudson and Snipes can come across as unsung heroes. Yet, the record’s production is just as much of a feature as Diggs. Hudson and Snipes bring some of the most cinematic, atmospheric, and demented production of their careers to Visions of Bodies Being Burned. At times minimal and at times searing, their production choices all serve to create a disturbing atmosphere that only briefly lets up on the ambient interludes. The clanging pots and revving chainsaws that punctuate the instrumental of “Eaten Alive,” or the beat constructed from a ping pong ball on “Body on the Pile” give a detailed sense of place and presence for Diggs to fill with his voice. 

Considering Clipping’s reputation for constantly experimenting with new concepts, the return to the unhinged horrorcore style of There Existed An Addiction to Blood could have easily overstayed its welcome. Thankfully, Visions of Bodies Being Burned not only meets the quality of its predecessor, but it is also the perfect complement to it. The two feel like equal partners with the throughline being Clipping’s tribute to horror as a genre and examination of unforgiving depravity. Few listening experiences this year are as gripping, visceral, and vivid as Visions of Bodies Being Burned. (www.clppng.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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