Review: Clinic – Free Reign II
Published on March 25th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
A set of alternative mixes by producer Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never, this addendum to last year’s typically excellent Free Reign finds Clinic sounding much more like they did on captivating 2010 album Bubblegum than we could possibly have expected. The running order’s different and all: in a sense it’s a different proposition altogether, although that is of course an easy notion to shoot down.
At the very least, Free Reign II is a damn sight more than the audiophile touch-up we were expecting. It kicks off with “Sun and the Moon” – sorry, “Sun and the Moon II” – which has a fair amount of unfamiliar psychedelic soundscapery about it, and it continues in the vein of an aural experience, an oddly circus-y one at that. “You” was the penultimate track on the original, but “You II” (chortle!) makes for a great, creeping sort of second track this time around: it too is much redecorated, and somehow made less creepy and paranoid by the applications of ghostly synth and schoolyard noises. Well, “You II” does darken and unsettle somewhat as it goes on, but up to that point it’s surprisingly lush in places.
“King Kong II” remains buzzy and unsettling while populating its mix with extra swarms of electronic insects, while “For the Season II” and “Miss You II” are more swoonsome affairs, reminding especially of Bubblegum with their predilection for luxuriating in major 7th chords. “Cosmic Radiation” sounds more like its title now, “Seamless Boogie Woogie BBC (rpt) II” lets loose an array of colourful electronics, and “See Saw II” is perhaps even more urgent and swirling than before, an echo effect on the titular refrain proving very effective indeed.
“Misty II” makes its popping, twangy bass element more prominent than on its album-opening predecessor, casting it in a faintly dubby light. Somehow the chorus-y effect on the vocal feels as if it emboldens the lyrics, but that could be our imagination. An organ riff that might sound really quite normal in a different song feels so disembodied and detached in this one, and the deal is sealed by a veritable waterfall of an instrumental middle eight.
Free Reign II ends with a number that didn’t feature on Free Reign, namely “Done and Dusted”: it fits in just fine, too, Ade Blackburn singing “now I love this place” almost making it feel as if it had been waiting to come out. It’s now even clearer: Clinic and Daniel Lopatin are a good mix, as it were.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Free Reign II is out now on Domino. For more information, please visit the official Clinic website.