The three dudes (lines on their Facebook page like ate our weight in burritos, stop being a weenie, and band trip to the bar to watch the Vikings game, sarcastic or not, confirm their dude-ness) of Clipd Beaks seem to love whatever kind of pedal, instrument or electronic gadget they can pick out of a pawn shop, thrift store, or junk heap. The way they put these sounds together certainly owes a lot to the noise world, but rarely seems as chaotic as some noise. They certainly arent clean or clear-cut in their instrumentation, but theres a method to the madness. They push this method even further on their second full-length, To Realize, sounding very intentional in deep, dark, dense layers.
From the outset, Liars Drums Not Dead would seem to be a touchstone for this record. The idea of the long, unified album composed of themes and tones is certainly similar, as are the heavy, shambling drums. It plays on the same field in its use of drone. The keen difference, though, would be Clipd Beaks’ insistently dark edge. Theres no airy refrain like The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack. There may be the occasional foray into non-oppressive noise, but theres still plenty of confusion and clutter.
The slow, chortling echoes of opener Strangler bubble and pop, reverb-drenched guitars (a sure staple of the entire record) hang around, while drums shuffle creepily by and murmured vocals about traveling on eerie highways (David Lynch overload) intone. Throughout all this, the bass throbs at the core of the piece, rolling in waves of dread. Blood follows close at Stranglers heels, trading in much the same fare, only a little harsher. Lyrics on the record are a bit tough to swallow, generally, Ive been known to bleed in On One standing out as better than average. But with this kind of record, spectacular lyrics would just be icing on the cake. Here, the cakes been baked pretty well, and theyre leaving it bare so you can see every step that went into it.
The clangor that opens Home is downright epic, which only doubles in size with the howled vocals that enter nearly five minutes in. Desert Highway Music again (I hate to keep harping on this, but its so apt!) is Liars scoring a Lynch film. Theres lots of blood, theres a strange journey through the middle of Nowhere America and theres lots of noise confusion. Jamn is the single least creepy tune of the bunch, coming off somewhere between Throbbing Gristle and the Secret Machines, carrying all the dense spaciness that that implies.
The tones arent monotonous, despite the consistency. Shot on A Horse is a creepy Western and the trumpets on Atoms are creepy jazz, but they each do creepy in a different way. There are a lot of long passages to the disc as well, which is only amplified by the interweaving of songs and themes. At points, the sturm and drang, the creaking and groaning instrumentation gets to be a bit much. And for a record with eleven long tracks, thats largely to be expected.
But, its all done in the name of setting a mood, of establishing a consistent tone, which is an admirable goal for any band related to/involved in the drone/noise school. For the most part, the album feels like a cohesive whole, which is certainly something to recommend. It might not be the kind of thing to sit down and listen to while reading a book, but a few listens should have patient listeners finding great moments revealing themselves through the clutter.