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Music Review: Clock Hands Strangle – Distaccati

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Clock Hands Strangle have taken issue with the fundamental quantity of time. There is no room to analyse their distaste for all things chronometric here, but I'd wager the five-part company of Floridians have thrown away their watches, so they can get on with the 'bidness' of making music. And they have succeeded with their second long player, Distaccati, a Keatsian ramble through the American outback.

Originally a summer-ish release, Distaccati also provides the tonic needed for autumnal 'daze' by chasing a pint of folklore with a shot of singer-songwriter, Todd Portnowitz's verse. In the opening track “Distaccati”, Portnowitz invites us on a journey through the magnifying world of the telescope, where he trysts with Walt Whitman and attempts to transcend the boundary of human limitation. Into the deep mesh of the compact disc we are taken, ably guided by instrumentation that harvests the roots of American history in a rhythmically sound bundle.

Clock Hands StrangleThis is an album filled with wanderlust, at once geographical, spiritual, and celestial, the latter evidenced in “To a Meteorite in a Museum”, which tells the story of a meteorite's journey to and within Earth. “The Moon Looks Back” continues the celestial motif, lamenting the impact that created our twilight guide. These compositions are punctuated by more terrestrial concerns, such as the dualistic love letter to “New York”, but are sensitively put to one side as the band redouble their efforts to find that other-meaning in the world.

In “A Stone Questions its Sculptor”, Portnowitz anthropomorphizes the uncut stone: the sculptor remains silent, one could say inanimate, therefore replacing, away from the fantasy, the articulate object. These modern intimations can be traced as far back as Pygmalion mythology and Keats's odes, which may have provided the foundations for Distaccati. Whatever the influences, Distaccati is a finely tuned album. There has been much discussion as to whether the album is conceptual in design. The answer is yes, because it is “unified by a theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, narrative, or lyrical.” And it's not just the narrative cathexis of Portnowitz that raises Distaccati above other folk-centric units. The musicianship sublimely wraps, elevates and infuses this 11-track LP with a full interpretation of human emotion, allowing the listener to experience mystical escape.

Clock Hands Strangle have set sail on the good-ship Maria Crowther, along with Keats and Whitman, to a future criss-crossed with success, and they have kindly provided the soundtrack for the journey. I recommend you buckle up, lean back and press play.

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About Paul Robinson

  • jcole

    Clock Hands Strangle didn’t get the recognition they deserved. I love them!