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Clemency - Drum Circles Against Lamentation & The Crude Foyer (2 B Real, 2021)

On her latest effort, Manchester based producer Clemency continues to warp perspectives and freak out the neurones with two exquisite cuts that channel into multiple frequencies.

Within music there are plenty of inbetween spaces, liminal environments where elements slip through the cracks and become one with themselves, their tone and texture allowed to ring out and become exceedingly powerful as a result. Electronic music in particular allows for plenty of room in this regard, with the hardware being utilised by producers providing plenty of scope for experimentation when it comes to exploring just how far grooves and melodies can be pushed to their extremes, or indeed moved to a space where intense pressure leads to the most bountiful of results. Stripping things down and moving to the edge has plenty of benefits, as it allows for the listener to delve deep within certain layers, where we can really get to grips with the nuts and bolts that make up tracks. Be it drums, melodies or tone, plenty of genres and producers have had a go at expressing themselves through a limited palette of instruments, and in most cases it goes a long way to showcasing to us just how impactful this approach can be. For some producers the placement of emphasis on a small array of elements means that the tone, placement and texture of these features can be maximised to their utmost, where every little thing hits hard with meaning and purpose. Taking a step back and taking it all in has a wonderful effect of pushing forward the notions of the genre in which the sound resides and makes us appreciate more the frameworks that provide the structure and the heart of proceedings. The lack perhaps of melody allows us to make up our own little emotional journey, whilst the lack of drums provides us with a spectrum of melodic elements to which we can assign a pulse. Its exciting to come across music like this which hints at something we know perhaps quite well, but underneath lies a differing approach, a certain perspective that provides new angles for the listener to explore, both at home and on the dance floor. Its an approach that always serves up the goods, because it treads the fine line between what we know and what we want to hear, with our minds being expanded as a result as we delve deeper into the inner workings of genres and what makes them tick. The style and sound is persuasive and indefinitely fresh, and as a notion to get behind its certainly a flow that gives over enormously, leaving us with plenty to get behind and so much to enjoy.

These kinds of feels really do abound from the music that Clemency has put out, and despite being only a couple of releases deep, she has already shown a knack of approaching established genre stylings with a deeply intriguing perspective. Clemency is the alias of Bethany Clements Patrick, a producer and DJ based in Manchester who can be found regularly spinning at some of the city's most integral nitespots, whilst also co-running the Mutualism label, club night and NTS radio show. The ethos of Mutualism is centred around forward thinking club and experimental sounds within a collaborative and inclusive environment, and if you were to dive into their NTS radio archive (or have had the pleasure of seeing the label do their thing in a club setting) you would get a real sense of this ethos being played out, with the online mixes a whirlwind of hard hitting and thought provoking beats and melodies. Clemency pops up inbetween guest mixes with her own take on this ethos, with the dynamism she brings to the table highly infectious and making us yearn to make a trip down south to see her and the label in action one day. It only seems natural for a creative with a wide array of pursuits to dip their toe into music production, and Clemency has approached music making with a particularly interesting angle indeed. Akin to the ideals of the label, there's an intriguing vibrancy to be found with her music, with a particular focus on certain frequencies in order to convey mood and tone. Like what we touched upon in the opening paragraph, its this focus on certain layers that gives the music an enormous amount of weight, allowing the listener to really delve within a prescribed set of structures that give over an enormous amount in regards to the atmosphere being crafted. Her sound design is second to none and really helps to contextualise the rhythms, allowing for emotional connections to be made as we imagine what kinds of tones and melodies exist within the invisible inbetweens. These kinds of feels are very evident on her first two releases, with 'Named Oils' arriving first in 2019. Focusing more so on the pulsating vibrations that come from within the keys, its a gentle and somewhat sombre meander through a glittering twilight that remains intimate and somewhat expansive all at the same time, with sporadic vocal samples thrown in to provide a abstract and fleeting commentary. As debuts go it helps to set the scene on what she looks to emphasise within her music, and what flowed into life next was a true delight for all - 2020's 'References' EP. Utilising rhythmic layering and pulses as a foundation, the album sits still yet doesn't at the same time, with a constant renewal of its structure occurring as time passes by, as elements flicker in and out of time, continually searching for the next reference point in which to bounce off of. As an audial experience its simply fascinating, and remains as a record to play out to the right crowd at the optimum moment, and as an artefact to hold in your hands and listen to over and over again at home. There's also a classy remix album of 'References' that came out last year also, and features some heavy set edits form Perko, Boofy and Jennifer Walton. In all, her body of work thus far has been really engaging in all instances, with the merging of the radio shows weaving so well with the tropes of her productions, and as a package it makes for incredible listening. Be sure to check out the Mutualism website, their shows on NTS, and of course Clemency's previous efforts, its all very, very good.

And now we arrive at her latest single, 'Drum Circles Against Lamentation/The Crude Foyer', which lands on the 2 B Real imprint, and as ever the focus turns to the sonics that unravel within this wondrous two tracker. From the off we are greeted with thunderous rhythmic flows, with all manner of kicks, hats and cymbals taking hold before intriguing as hell bass notes and melodic nodes come into view, and as an audience member you become captivated by the display. Both tracks showcase a differing side to the audial spectrum that Clemency finds herself within, from the rhythmic displays of strength through to the quietly placed yet hard hitting melodic elements that add flavour and meaning up top, with everything coming together expertly as we bob our heads along to the groove. Its a perfect continuation from her previous works, and only helps to build the sound up into something bolder, brighter and bigger. So on that note, lets dive into this excellent record, and all the treasures that we can find along the way....

Up first comes 'Drum Circles Against Lamentation', and this one begins with a rhythmical palette to get things going. Various hats and cymbals swirl around a consistently chiming mid section, with the pan becoming more and more filled as time goes by, and as we pass by a few stanzas the kicks arrive and really get things moving. The groove solidifies itself here and sheds a bit of its layers, which occurs at just the right time to introduce the bass note that slides into view, which crafts this beautiful transposing element for the rhythm to work alongside. The two elements work alongside one another for a while, allowing us to get to view their symbiotic relationship, and as this occurs we see the lone chord swing into view, and this shifts perspectives once again. The drums and bass align themselves, shifting from one structure to the next as we gain further insight into the underbelly of the sound, and from this point onwards the track takes a dive into the quieter spaces, where the drums recede to a whisper and the bass and lone chord take over proceedings. The momentum is not lost at all, with the pulse remaining so very strong, and as the track sees itself out the door we are left with the melodic elements in all their glory, and its oh so beautiful. That will chime along in our heads for a good while yet. On the flip we have 'The Crude Foyer', and this one begins with the swells to get things going. The melodic outlay is deep and engrossing, filling up the pan that presents itself to us, and this captivation only intensifies as the lightest of percussive features starts to slide into view. The melodics start to sweep, not quite solid but instead drifting in and out of time and space up above the emerging dub like drum structure, with flickering textures adding enormous weight to proceedings. The continual drifts of the keys and drones lift us up, creating a weightlessness that creates a world beneath, as the drums switch things up via the introduction of light dub like elements that continue to fuel our desires and our glitter eyed view of the world. Everything cuts out around the 3:30 mark as we enter into this plateau, a stasis point where time moves at a slowed down rate, our minds drifting from state to state and place to place, looking and longing for this moment to never end, and from the drifts we finally emerge with the lone kick and the occasional snare to keep us company. The track leaves this world the same way it entered it, with the sweeping swells leaving behind an experience that mesmerised at every turn, never for one moment leaving us behind but simply pushing us to the outer realms of our expectations, experiences and feels. Its a rhythmic masterclass that leaves a lasting impression, and certainly a record that requires repeat listens to be able to appreciate all the little things that slide in and out of view.

Music that focuses on the pulse, the groove, the momentum of its ingredients, will always find a way of worming its way into the deep subconscious, and remaining there as we walk along the street, dance in the club, or stare out the window at home. Its a reflection of the rhythms that bind us in our lives, the routines that we find ourselves within, and as a result it feels like a natural accompaniment to everything we do. Clemency's work thus far has been a real ode to this notion, with a razor sharp focus on the ways in which unravelling rhythms can really work the mind out meaning that we leave the experiences behind feeling very much fulfilled, content in the knowledge that the journey from point A to point B was filled with plenty of rhythmic excellence. This new single is no different, with the first cut honing in on the progression, bass and singular chord to keep us mesmerised, whilst the second track turned its attention to the way in which deep and dubby sonics can overlay themselves in the most intriguing of ways, all the while showcasing a beautiful flowing percussive sequence. As a complete experience it doesn't get much better than that, and as a step forward it feels significant, and we for one cannot wait to see what Clemency comes up with next. Such a vibe, this one.

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