Clapton Fox – Amazing Thunderstorm

Listening to Amazing Thunderstorm from indie pop band Clapton Fox there is a wonderment at the array of sounds, textures and feelings that freely soar throughout the album and how they all come together so well which invariably they do. At times really they should not do so with such ease but with an artistry that is engaging and intriguing the band pulls it off.

Clapton Fox was formed in 2009 though really its origins reach back to 2005 and the band Wolves, formed by Luke Insect and Polish-born multi-instrumentalist, song writer, and producer Robert Kaniepien. Through different directions, success and acclaim as The Laughing Windows from 2007, to the decision in 2009 to part their ways the journey for Kaniepien has been varied and inventive. Renaming himself Clapton Fox after the split Kaniepien brought in drummer George Zampirolo and coming up to date August 1st sees the release of their debut album Amazing Thunderstorm on Peacock Skins.  

The album maybe is not an instant flavour on the musical palate but swiftly grows and reveals its tasteful artistry with subsequent plays. It does intrigue and instil the urge to explore from the first outing though, teasing with succinct melodies and flowing sounds whilst throwing left field curve balls into the mix, opening track ‘Ain’t No Justice In The Sky’ an immediate example of what lies ahead. The song starts off with a smooth electronic atmospheric wave of sound as Kaniepien croons with feelings, then we are faced with a switch to an improv like almost jazzy section before switching back and repeating the thing over again later. It is this type of thing that makes the album so interesting and intriguing, the unpredictability to the music, though many will find it an issue.

There is a strong consistency across the album despite the variance within the tracks, and very different they are to each other too, though that is again something some will find a problem as much as sameness across an album can be for others. The strength of the individual songs though should win most over, eclectic though they maybe.

Three tracks especially standout on Amazing Thunderstorm, the title track itself being the first where the repeating of just two lines throughout the whole song against the electrified scuzzy guitar background is wonderfully effective. The touching and haunting ‘Isabelle’ touches a deep inner chord; the emotive delivery against an emotionally distorted backdrop touching but also brings restlessness. The third of these impressive tracks is the best on the album though for many it could be the most challenging. ‘Procrastination’ is rife with sounds and switches of flavours, starting out with a dirty beat reminiscent of De Staat and the fact it only lasts the briefest of smiles would be my only issue with the whole album. Then we get a vibrant almost Kinks like summer time pop with mellow sparkling vocals and a deep pulsing bass line. It has a flavour of latter XTC about it which is never a negative. There is a feel of indecision about the track, though it is hard to know why but considering the title it has to be intended and credit given for the result.

Whether Amazing Thunderstorm is a kaleidoscope of inventiveness and ingenuity or a schizophrenic musical collection of ideas it is hard to tell but as it is such a wonderfully creative album it really does not matter. It will not work for everyone admittedly but all should at least venture into its charismatic soundscape, and take a few trips to find the delights it holds.

Pete RingMaster 07/07/2011

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