Clipping - Splendor & Misery
The opening track on Splendor & Misery carefully lays down a very specific scene: echoing vocals reverberate, evoking the vast emptiness of space, deftly building tension and atmosphere. And then the next one completely blows it up. Rapper – and now Grammy/Tony winner – Daveed Diggs spits rapid-fire exposition with startling urgency over the vacuous ambience.
The staggering juxtaposition sets a precedent for the rest of the record: an afrofuturist concept album regarding a slave aboard an intergalactic cargo ship, and the computer who falls in love with him following a violent uprising. If it sounds a little silly, Clipping do everything they can to convince you otherwise. The LA-native hip-hop trio barely let up for a second with their terrifying, lonely vision of the future.
Between, and even within tracks, the mood can shift, and the piercing production can sneak up on you like a jump scare. The story progresses with pounding intensity, with only a brief respite from the darkness in soulful a cappella cut Story 5. The smooth harmonies and sultry vocals are a breath of fresh air in a claustrophobic album in desperate need of one. Suffocating, stressful, and challenging, Splendor & Misery is uncompromising in its desolation, and it’s all the better for it.
Listen to: All Black, Story 5