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'A Thousand Skies'

Alternate realities and mythology form the basis of Clap! Clap!’s ’A Thousands Skies’ - its song titles make reference to additional signs of the zodiac (‘Ophiuchus’) and the stars in the constellations (‘Betelgeuse’). The colourful Italian producer Digi G’Alessio behind Clap! Clap! similarly draws on his inspiration from African music, as before on ‘Tayi Bebba’ (2014). This time he introduces collaborations with South African artists: Bongeziwe Mabandla, a folk singer who features in ‘Nguwe’, and Planet Mu band John Wizards who accompany ‘A Thousand Skies Under Cepheus’ Erudite (Eyes)’ showing Alessio’s indisputable interest and appreciation for the source of contemporary afro sounds he experiments with.

Eclectically brilliant elements of the electronic and live instrumentation intersect to create textural layers of booming bass evident in ‘Ar-Raqis’ and the computerised keys and samples of ‘Ascension Psalm’ (featuring Berlin future soul duo HDADD) loop to produce vibrant soundscapes, that are immersive and all consuming. One of the record’s highlights, ‘Elephant Serenade’, encapsulates the inventive playfulness of Clap! Clap! as he uses a trumpet to simulate the sound of a live elephant. The impact of his earlier existence as a jazz player also noticeably infuses tracks ‘Betelgeuse’s Endless Bamboo Oceans’ and ‘Ode to The Pleiades’, attaching another rich dimension to this record.

Our one and only criticism of ‘A Thousand Skies’ is that the album doesn’t last long enough. However, Clap! Clap! exudes an aptitude to manipulate the boundaries of genres and his willingness to take his audio explorations to the furthest corners, to construct works like this that are full of twists and turns, making you wonder where exactly he’ll go next.

9/10

Words: Lois Browne

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