Sunday 10 July 2016

Review of 'Wriggle' by clipping.

Clipping (stylised ‘clipping.’ but for punctuation’s sake we’ll call them Clipping) continue to make music out of the most unmusical ideas conceivable, this time centreing their creepy lyrics around sex. The result is Wriggle - an EP that will either get you wriggling uncomfortably in your seat or wriggling with masochistic joy.

The hare-brained hip hop group have always been challenging even to a liberal-minded listener like myself. Rapping over Merzbow-esque harsh noise on their debut Midcity, and then graduating to dentist drills and alarm clock bleeps on their follow-up Clppng, the group have now worked up to making beats solely out of scary gunshot noises on Wriggle (as showcased with the track ‘Shooter’). The nutty inventiveness and head-bobbing sense of rhythm is back, but so is the frustrating lack of melody. Daveed Diggs’ rapping meanwhile both takes away and adds to the intensity, each word conveyed with a crisp and clean clarity that serves as a warm blanket against the cold dissonant noise, but delivered at a dizzying speed that might as well be an extra punch in the gut.

As for the lyrics, they’ve now taken on a less psychopathic tone, going for a pervy vibe instead. Diggs’ isn't quite the urban bard he was on Clppng, no longer sitting down his listeners for stories, but crafting songs out of unsettling stream of consciousness garble. Thankfully the imagery is still vivid and clever, even if I’m not sure what to think of an image like ‘wriggle like an eel’ or Cakes Da Killa’s beautiful contributed line ‘golden showers on white sheets’. It’s certainly not music to play at your 8-year-old nephew’s birthday party, but if you’re struggling for something to spin in your sex dungeon, this is definitely the record for you.

One of Clipping’s messiest projects to date, Wriggle’s lyrics and song structures can often feel directionless. Whether this is an intentional way of further disorientating the listener or a song-writing flaw is up for debate. ‘Shooter’ has clear verses and a hook, but the snaking synth in the background refuses to settle into a cosy harmonious riff – probably intentionally messy. Meanwhile, closer ‘Our Time’ aims for an epic crescendo only to settle into a clunky chorus from guest vocalist Nailah Middleton that couldn’t be less catchy if it tried – probably unintentionally messy.

Of course, Wriggle is still a solid EP, and sure signs that full-length album is in the works. Technically impressive, creative and still packing a groove, Clipping may be just as head-scratching, but they’re also just as engaging, still pushing hip hop forward to new daring places and remaining ahead of the curve.