Clock Opera – Ways to Forget (Moshi Moshi)
May 2, 2012 by TP James
First impressions of Clock Opera’s debut full-length are not encouraging. If nothing is known about the band, musicians or music prior to listening, then you could assume from their name at least that this is going to be a pretentious, fluffy affair. Artistic mash-ups of René Magritte’s dream sequences painted in one of Peter Savill’s kaleidoscopic nightmares greet the listener, with artwork as a vague as it is unoriginal. It’s the look – and feel – of a band which with every fibre says everything and nothing.
If anyone ever bothered to think this much about ‘Ways to Forget’ then they probably too close to the music to notice that for all it’s promise and self-belief, the album is actually pretty poor. It says nothing new or defining, but perhaps most harrowing of all for Clock Opera’s composer and mastermind Guy Connelly, is that is says nothing meaningful whatsoever.
It takes a good few listens to realise that any noteworthy emotional mark has been left by Connelly on any of these 10 songs, and few and far between are any substantial ones. Effortlessness never looked so much like lethargy.
The problem is that there is not much break up at all, and it effectively plays like a 43-minute song, which would be OK if the song wasn’t mediocre as hell. About 4 listens in, you can start to make out patterns, shapes and some slight definition in the songs. In actual fact, tracks 5 to 8 aren’t that bad and at least give some hope to the listener, as well as some much needed respite midway through the tedium.
Tracks like ‘Belongings’ and ‘White Noise’ even manage to sound pretty at times. They are going for beautiful or aching, but I’m afraid pretty will just have to do.
In actual fact for what can sound like a minimalist album for tracks packed with such a dense array of short and borrowed sounds, beeps and loops, it is all just a bit too overloaded at times. You can’t have it both ways and for what I’m sure was to be an album full of promise and luscious composition; it falls some way short of its own expectations, let alone those of the listener.