Walking with Thee, Domino
Friday 22 February 2002
Liverpool's most interesting band in years have retained on this follow-up album the eclecticism and exploratory inclinations that gave their 2000 debut Internal Wrangler such distinctive character. The solidifying effect of two years' assiduous touring, however, has turned them into the perfect 21st century garage band, able to turn their hands to a vast array of styles, from the delicate Tim Buckley-esque waltz "For the Wars" to the kind of Can-style tribal stomp ("Equaliser") that dominated their debut. The opener "Harmony" is typical, its blend of influences (Pink Floyd, Ennio Morricone and Laurie Anderson, at a guess) combine to conjure up different shades of haunting, appropriate to its invitation to "come fill yourself with dreams". The influence of Wire is detectable in the stop-start structures of some songs and the repetitive minimalism of many guitar parts, while vocalist Ade Blackburn manages to sound by turns like Neil Young, David Byrne, Nils Lofgren and Damo Suzuki. Multi-instrumentalist Hartley's fondness for clarinet and melodica brings a lonely dub poignancy to many tracks, though overall, the most valuable player this time round is probably drummer Carl Turney, whose rumbling tom-toms and jazzy grooves recall John "Drumbo" French of Beefheart's original Magic Band, particularly when matched with the brittle clangour of guitars on "Welcome". Crucially, however, Clinic have the imagination to make their influences work in striking new ways, rather than just add footnotes to former glories.
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